PREMIERE: múm’s Gyda Valdysdóttir Reimagines Schubert’s “Opus 100”

Epicycle finds her taking on classical pieces from throughout history.

Gyda Valtysdóttir cofounded múm when she was a teenager, and a decade into the deeply influential Icelandic band’s initial run, she took a hiatus from the band to pursue music academically. She earned a double masters in music from the Rimsky-Korsakov State Conservatory in Russia, and she brings the full weight of that mastery to bear on Epicycle, her collection of classical pieces that’s getting worldwide release after winning major acclaim in her native country.

While the notion of an experimental indie musician adapting classical music to meet their ends isn’t exactly new—Colin Stetson released Sorrow, his take on Gorecki’s 3rd Symphony, just last year—Valtysdóttir takes a more holistic approach, interpreting pieces by a number of different composers to create a songbook whose genesis spans centuries; the oldest piece, “Seikilos Epitaph,” comes from the oldest known piece of musical notation.

Like any classical musician worth their salt, Valtysdóttir handles these pieces with care while still imprinting them with her own fingerprints. Today, we’re premiering “Opus 100,” which was composed by Franz Schubert (and, many years later, appeared on the Barry Lyndon soundtrack). Valdysdóttir grounds the march with a clatter of percussion, but it’s her mournful cello that leads us through the center of the song. Even as the small ensemble around her begins to shuffle, flirting with the idea of turning the song into a smoky cabaret tune in one moment and a free-jazz workout in the next, the cello remains steadfast in its melancholy. It’s a beautiful, quietly complex piece, and you can give it a listen below.

Epicyclehere is out October 13. Preorder the album .

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