From Iceland — I'm No Expert #1

I’m No Expert #1

Published November 20, 2009

I’m No Expert #1

Apparently there are no mandatory rock show-like delays at a classical lunch hour concert, so luckily I arrived just in time. Pianist and curator Nína Margrét Grímsdóttir took the stage, welcomed the audience and explained the day’s concept: a non-verbal poetry or instrumental song music. This, she said, was a popular style in the 19th century, where locating an unsung melody is required of the listener. A good concept, a kind of musical audience participation. In Grímsdóttir’s delivery of Mendelssohn’s Liede ohne Worte, op. 19 no 1, though, I experienced trouble placing the melody, but the song itself was pleasantly played, short and delightful. Maybe I just didn’t connect with the piece. Maybe it is best unsung, anyway.
Margrét Árnadóttir then joined with her cello and together they played Beethoven’s variation in E flat major on Mozart’s Bei mannern, WoO 46, or, in layman’s terms: Mozart’s Magic Flute – Beethoven Remix. Really nice, actually. This is a song originally written with lyrics, since it is a part of the famous opera, and I could definitely hear the poetry coming from the Cello. Árnadóttir did it justice, playing both passionately and technically proficient. Nína, however, felt stiff and possibly under-rehearsed. Not that she made any obvious mistakes, but I felt her delivery was not as confident as Margrét’s.
I may not be a Mendelssohn fan and given Margrét’s and Nína’s delivery of Romance Sans Paroles, op. 109 neither are they, but since the title actually translates as ‘A Song without Words’ they probably felt it should be on the program.
The headlining number, Beethoven’s Sonata in A-major, op. 69 is a good piece. I’ve been listening to it on Grooveshark for a couple of weeks, and Grímsdóttir and Árnadóttir worked it well. Obviously this one had been rehearsed the most, but I feel I would have gotten better into it if Grímsdóttir had done a couple of warm up exercises before the gig, as the stiffness was apparently getting in her way again, which really put a damper on an otherwise good delivery.
The Gerðuberg Matinée Series is a regular occurrence with free admittance—I urge you to check it out this winter. A full schedule may be found at

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