Björk adapted for opera
November 26, 2019 1:40 PM   Subscribe

Vespertine is the fourth studio album by Icelandic recording artist Björk. First released in August 2001.
Björk performed the entire album along with an orchestra at the Royal Opera House in London (1 Hr 34 min) in December 2001.
Now in 2019 the team of Jan Dvořák, Peter Häublein, and Roman Vinuesa together with the opera singer Ji Yoon, have adapted Björk's Vespertine for a full Orchestra using no electronic instruments.

Vespertine had more influence from classical music than Björk's previous techno-oriented albums had, but the arrangers set themselves the task of using no electronic instruments. To this end, they included such novel instruments as an African pumpkin, glass, and sandwich wrapping paper into the orchestra.
posted by Lanark (11 comments total) 44 users marked this as a favorite
Thanks for this -- Vespertine is one of my favorite albums of all time. Looking forward to listening!
posted by ourobouros at 1:51 PM on November 26, 2019 [4 favorites]

Hard to believe this album is almost 20 years old!
posted by Atom Eyes at 1:54 PM on November 26, 2019 [4 favorites]

I would like very much to see how the orchestra created Frosti.
posted by Bee'sWing at 2:19 PM on November 26, 2019 [1 favorite]

*rises screaming from the void* I CAN'T BELIEVE THIS

I'm so excited. It's my favorite album of hers.
posted by Freeze Peach at 2:57 PM on November 26, 2019 [2 favorites]

Lifelong opera lover here. Not especially a Bjork fan. But this is one of the most beautiful things I've heard in a long time. Far superior to nearly all contemporary opera out there today.
posted by Modest House at 4:41 PM on November 26, 2019 [2 favorites]

Because of my work situation, I saw Bjork composing part of vespertine on a laptop with headphones. She was using composition software to write the music, which really surprised me as I had no idea she worked that way. Later, I got to go see this tour at Radio City Music Hall and It was one of the very best shows I've ever seen.
I met her when she brought me coffee in the cold one morning, which is to this day one of my favorite anecdotes ever just because it sounds so random. All of which is just to say she's nice very nice which is always good to hear about an artist you like, so I thought I'd share.
posted by hilberseimer at 4:42 PM on November 26, 2019 [24 favorites]

This is very cool, but for my money there's no Björk without Björk's voice. Its just so unique, integral, and part of the music.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 4:27 AM on November 27, 2019

This is very cool, but for my money there's no Björk without Björk's voice. Its just so unique, integral, and part of the music.

I fully agree with this. The arrangement is beautiful, but Ji Yoon isn't getting it done here from the sampling I've done.
posted by bfranklin at 8:29 AM on November 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

Ji Yoon hits all of the notes and musical phrases with a precision I don't think Bjork can quite match, now precision and accuracy are not the be all and end all, many people may prefer Bjork's less formal singing style - for example compare the vocal climax on 'Harm of Will': Bjork / Ji Yoon for my money Ji Yoon takes it to another level. (You need to adjust the volume levels because Bjork is much louder.)
posted by Lanark at 10:43 AM on November 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

For me, there is also the significant difference in the way Bjork's recording places the her main vocals as something more like being amid the music and background vocals where they exist as frame for the voice, where the opera, like "classical" music in general, ultimately has silence as its frame, which the music and voice are always struggling against. It gives the sound a more distanced feel or external impression than the greater intimacy of Bjork's recording, which, like much "modern" music feels more internalized for its loose formality and in providing a different base to the sound experience as a whole. (If that makes sense, my music vocabulary is unfortunately weak.)
posted by gusottertrout at 11:27 AM on November 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

This is one of those perfect albums for me, especially when listened to through the concert DVD. The chorus, Matmos, the harp, it has this lush organic quality playing alongside her voice. Really special art.
posted by flipmodemedian at 1:45 AM on December 1, 2019

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