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It’s Cold Up North!

While the temperatures may be low in Scandinavia, much of the music is so uplifting that you forget about the icicles dripping from your instrument. In particular, you may be unfamiliar with a music genre known as Yoik. It has nothing to do with the exclamation “Yoiks” but refers to a traditional form of song of the Sami people of the Nordic countries and Kola peninsula of Russia. Originally, yoik (sometimes spelled joik) referred to only one of several Sami singing styles, but in English the word now tends to refer to all types of traditional Sami singing. As an art form, each yoik is meant to reflect or evoke a person, animal, or place and the sound is comparable to the traditional chanting of some Native American cultures.

A composer who is at the forefront of this genre is the Norwegian yoiker Frode Fjellheim who was responsible for the main theme in Disney’s “Frozen”. Frode has subsequently received praise from the Norwegian Sámi President for spreading yoik to new audiences. Similarly, the Norwegian female choir that appeared on the Disney soundtrack have also garnered some notoriety for the same reason and are busy capitalising on this success with the release of a new album called “Northern Lights”.

The choir was founded in 1986 and consists of around 30 amateur singers based in Trondheim. Despite being an amateur choir, they have attained an extremely professional international standard winning several international competitions over the last few years. Their cool new album was just begging to have a handful of tracks featured on our Album Playlist which is exactly what we have done!

Decca Re-Releases A Definitive

Always a dangerous statement as “one man’s meat is another man’s poison”, however, this newly packaged set of Beethoven’s complete String Quartet cycle could certainly qualify as a possible definitive for many – it is certainly a favourite for many critics. If you like your Beethoven more sweet and slow (a la Klemperer) the Allegri String Quartet may be more your “cup of tea”. On the other hand, if you prefer to hear Ludwig with rather more sharpness and alacrity (a la Karajan) we think that the Takacs Quartet will be “right up your street”. Here at The Ice Stream we are certainly more than happy to feature selected tracks from this mighty collection on our featured album playlist.

Originally released on 3 albums between 2002 and 2005, Decca has now put the whole cycle in one box set. While the CDs will bash your plastic to the tune of £34, this no lightweight collection but possibly a small price to pay for a definitve? Don’t just take our word for it – the three “Rasumovsky” Quartets album originally was a Grammy Award Winner for Best Chamber Music Recording & Gramophone Award Winner when it was first released.

It all began in 1975 when four students at the Music Academy in Budapest, Gábor Takács-Nagy (first violin), Károly Schranz (second violin), Gábor Ormai (viola), and András Fejér (cello) formed The Takács Quartet. According to their own story, Takács-Nagy, Ormai and Fejér had been playing trios together for several months when they met Schranz during a pickup soccer game after classes. With the immediate addition of Károly to their group the trio became a quartet.

They first received international attention in 1977, winning the First Prize and the Critics’ Prize at the International String Quartet Competition in Evian, France. After that the quartet won the Gold Medal at the 1979 Portsmouth and Bordeaux Competitions and First Prizes at the Budapest International String Quartet Competition in 1978 and the Bratislava Competition in 1981. The quartet made its first North American tour in 1982.

In 1983, the group decided it would be best for them and their families if they moved to the United States. A colleague offered them a position as quartet-in-residence at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and they accepted the job. This was also the year that Takács-Nagy left the group. While he was the first to go ,he was not the last and now Karoly Schranz and Andras Fejer are the only original members. British violinist Edward Dusinberre has been with the Quartet since 1993 and violist, Geraldine Walther (previously with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra), joined in 2005 – the same year the quartet became associate artists at the South Bank Centre

Throughout its long journey, the Takacs Quarter has embarked on a successful series of recordings: a cycle of all six Bartók quartets (dedicated to the memory of Ormai, who died in 1995) and this critically acclaimed complete Beethoven quartet cycle, as well as quartets by Smetana and Borodin.

 

Live Long And Prosper

In our opinion, the abundant growth in the quantity of British Television has not yielded a similar increase in quality drama productions. In all probability we will not see the likes of superb productions many remember from the 70s & 80s again. There have been notable exceptions, of course, such as Downton Abbey which has been an international hit. This shining light amidst the gloom of reality television has brought about a small glimmer of a possible resurgence in high grade television.

One of ITV’s grasps at a follow-up to Downton’s successful period piece has been The Halcyon. The show tells the story of a glamorous five star hotel run by aristocracy during the Second World War. There is no doubt that the program makers spent a good deal of time, thought (and money) in putting this 8 part series together. It is, therefore, disappointing that ITV has announced that it has axed the show after just one series despite fans begging for more.

Here at The Ice Stream we were particularly disappointed by this news as the series music overseen by the accomplished film and televison composer Samuel Sim is superb. In addition to his input numerous guest stars such as Jamie Cullum, Beverley Knight and Tracy Kashi appear on the soundtrack. Renowned Eastenders star Kara Tointon also proved herself to be a budding charismatic singing talent in the mix of quasi classical and traditional jazz music. Fans of the series may prove to be unsuccessful in their campaign to get the series reinstated but they can, at least, relive some of the musical highlights here on The Ice Stream where we have put a selection of tracks from the soundtrack CD released in January this year on our new Album Playlist.

Tinkling Somebody Else’s Ivories

The latest addition to our current feature album playlist is a real showstopper! It is a new release from a man who has sold over 50 million albums. Aside from records with many groups such as Yes and The Strawbs, Rick Wakeman has released more than 100 albums as a solo artist alone!

Piano Portraits came out in January this years and, upon release, reached number 6 on the UK Albums Chart, becoming Rick’s highest charting album in the UK since 1975. Reaching the Top 10 these days is somewhat meaningless compared to the heady days of the 70s, but be in no doubt that this is truly worthy of success!

 

The album was made following the positive reception to Rick’s live radio performance of his piano arrangement of “Life on Mars?” by David Bowie following the singer’s death in January 2016. A subsequent single of the track was released in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support later in the year.

After Wakeman received offers from several music labels to produce an album of piano arrangements, he picked Universal. He has chosen a roster of songs that are his favourites or that he has played on as a session musician and as a member of Yes together with some classical pieces and original material. It is good to have the man back really “on form” and he is going to be promoting this new album on a 10-day tour of the UK between May and July of this year.

New Nobex Smarthone Apps

In our continued quest to upgrade all of our streams to SHOUTcast 2 we have now given our smart phone apps a “makeover” in conjunction with our partners Nobex.

Our shiny new smart phone apps are now available for iPhone, Android or Blackberry completely FREE by searching for The Ice Stream on the appropriate app store for your phone. These new apps are all now SHOUTcast 2 compatible.

You can also find the links on our Web Site by clicking on the Nobex logo on our home page or by selecting the Smart Phone Apps tab.

The new Ice Stream smart phone apps future-proofing The Chill!

No More Waiting!

It seems to have been quite a few weeks since we have had any likely candidates for a new featured contemporary album to go on our playlist. Fortunately, the end of January 2017 saw just the sort of thing we were looking for with the release of Una Healy’s debut solo album “The Waiting Game”. The hit single from it, “Stay My Love” also features guest star, Sam Palladio, the British actor and musician.

Una is an Irish singer-songwriter and former member of the band, The Saturdays. Born in Tipperary in 1981, she certainly seems to have been blessed with the touch of the blarney stone. However, a career in music is not what she originally envisioned having studied to become a primary school teacher and worked as a medical secretary. It was not until she was 23 that she decided to pursue a career in music.

After a short period of playing and singing in local pubs and clubs in Ireland, she felt that she wanted her newly chosen profession to have a clearer direction and traveled to London in search of opportunity. In 2007 she found just that, suceedding in an audition with foundling band, The Saturdays. The group enjoyed thirteen Top 10 hits and four Top 10 albums. Somehow, during this whirlwind success, Una managed to find time to date Irish International Rugby Union fullback Ben Foden who she eventually married in 2012.

Since then, the couple have had two children – daughter Aoife Belle (born March 13, 2012) and son Tadhg John (born February 2, 2015). With the maturity that family life brings, Una has now embarked on a solo career in music and can also be seen on TV as one of the judges on “The Voice Of Ireland” show.

Compilation Of Finery

Here at The Ice Stream we don’t often put compilation albums on our featured album playlist – but there are exceptions! Roberto Cacciapaglia’s latest double CD “Best Of” entitled “Atlas” is just so sublime we couldn’t resist adding it – particularly as Roberto is not that well known in many places outside of his native Italy.
This brand new album (released on 25th November) is a collection of 28 tracks remastered from this illustrious composer’s prolific output over the past 40 years. There is also a smattering of new tracks which include an outstanding version of “Starman” recorded as a tribute to the memory of David Bowie.

Roberto Cacciapaglia was born in Milan in 1953 and is an Italian pianist and composer. He graduated in composition from the Conservatorio Giuseppe Verdi under the direction of Bruno Bettinelli, where he also studied conducting and electronic music. Over the years he has worked at the studio of Phonology of Rai and collaborated with the CNR (National Research Council) in Pisa where he studied computer applications in the field of music.

He is also founder of the Educational Music Academy which aims to give a voice to young musical talents and assists them to achieve professional mastery in their works. His teachings have been sought outside of Italy and he has led several seminars and workshops at the Turkish Music State Conservatory.

Roberto performs his own compositions live and has enjoyed great success with his concerts – particularly at home in Italy as well as in Spain and Russia.

When Is It Classical?

Fortunately not a question we have to answer too often here at The Ice Stream as we play all sorts! Born in Brittany in 1970 Yann Tiersen’s musical career is split between studio albums, collaborations and film soundtracks. Whatever you decide, he is an excellent addition to our repertoire and we think he could easily be confused as a classical composer even if he doesn’t consider himself to be one.

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Yann says “I’m not a composer and I really don’t have a classical background. My real focus is on touring and studio albums which just happen to often be suitable for film”. His most famous soundtrack for the film “Amélie” was primarily made up from tracks taken from his first three studio albums.

His latest album is his ninth and is called “Eusa” and was released in Spetember 2016.

SHOUTcast 2

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As announced in our Blog in February we are gradually changing over all of our streams to SHOUTcast 2. We have been working hard behind the scenes to grapple with the new streaming system as there is some speculation that the original SHOUTcast will shortly be discontinued by the new owners Radionomy.

Firstly we upgraded our 128mp3 mobile/tablet player at http://icestream.co.uk/ and we have now also upgraded our main web site player to the new system at http://www.theicestream.net/ice-stream/. We would be interested to hear from anyone who experiences any difficulties with this – but think we have ironed out most of the “wrinkles”.

As such, we will now gradually be reducing the capacity of our legacy streams but will leave a few running for those people who have old internet radios that cannot resolve SHOUTcast 2. If your internet radio is over 5 years old, you may find that our new database entry reads “format error”. In this scenario you should add The Ice Stream to your “Added Stations” (see Frontier Silicon website or your device instructions to find out how) and use the legacy address: http://theicestream.online:8250

Similarly, there is an issue for some SHOUTcast 2 users. Most players work fine with the HTML 5 address http://listen.shoutcast.com/theicestream which is the URL that Radionomy/SHOUTcast 2 provides but, for some reason we are yet to understand, there are some Flash players that just refuse to work with this but will work with this other address: http://streaming.shoutcast.com/TheIceStream . Either address works in most players like WinAmp. Additionally, some Flash players require the “http://” to be removed to work.

In 85% of cases you should not find a problem with SHOUTcast 2 but there are clearly a handful of legacy issues which is probably the price of progress!

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