Arctic Sonata


Gulli Björnsson is an Icelandic guitarist and composer currently based in the United States. Written in 2015 and dedicated to Steve Cowan, Arctic Sonata was premiered by Steve Cowan at the Toronto Guitar Weekend in April 2016. The piece was inspired by the two Icelandic sagas (The Saga of Erik the Red and The Greenland Saga) that tell the tale of Vikings colonizing Greenland and North America. This is the premier recording of Arctic Sonata, and the score is now published by Productions D’Oz. The album includes solo guitar pieces by Albert Roussel, Darius Milhaud, Jacques Ibert, Francis Poulenc, Frank Martin, Camargo Guarnieri, Mario Gangi, Adam Khatchaturian, Ennio Morricone and Cyril Scott.

The album was re-mastered and re-released in 2023 on the HR Recordings label.

Critical praise for Arctic Sonata: 

Classical Guitar Magazine

“Arctic Sonata is a knockout – a wondrously inventive work following a program representing the lands the Vikings explored in North America. Exciting textures, dramatic moments and sections using extended techniques including two-handed tapping rivet the listener’s attention for the length of the work’s three movements. It is published by Les Productions d’Oz, and I predict that many who hear Cowan’s exceptional performance will immediately seek out the printed music.” – Al Kunze, Soundboard Magazine

“Steve Cowan is an elegant musician whose strong, crisp sense of rhythm under- pins his colorful interpretations, keeping them free of self-indulgence and perfectly in proportion. His programming also deserves recognition—both deft takes on old favorites and persuasive new or less-known pieces.

This collection charms and challenges in equal measure.” – Tracy Anne Smith, American Record Guide