Songstress Sigríður Thorlacius turns her attention to Weimar Berlin.
Café Rósenberg is to music what Bíó Paradís is to movies. It is somewhere the enthusiast can go to really enjoy his or her preferred art form, rather than have it as a backdrop to dates or discussions, popcorn or beer. Not that the place isn’t packed, mind, and they do have beer; it’s that people come here to really listen.
Every night there is a live concert going on, with performers ranging everywhere from proto-punk legend Jonathan Richman to local legends Gylfi, Rúnar and Megas. On the first night of August, we enjoyed the performance of talented songstress Sigríður Thorlacius, best known for singing with Hjaltalín and for resurrecting long lost Icelandic folk tunes. This time, however, she turned her attention to Weimar Berlin.
Kurt Weill may not be as well known in Iceland as in his homeland, so it’s gratifying to hear part of his great oeuvre on an Icelandic stage. Former Sugarcubes drummer and TV host Sigtryggur Baldursson once made an album of his songs in German, French, Icelandic and English. Inevitably, he can be seen in the crowd.
Sigríður mostly performs in English, concentrating not just on Weill’s Berlin work with Berthold Brecht, but also on this later Broadway career, after he was forced to flee his homeland during the Nazi takeover. Some of the best known songs from this later period include “September Song,” “Lost in the Stars” and “Speak Low,” which became standards for crooners like Sinatra and are also played here.
Between songs, she relays tidbits from his life, sometimes while the musicians tune up. The arrangements are tasteful, with piano, cello and a couple of wind-blowers. Apart from the English, we also get “Youkali” in French (also performed as an instrumental intermezzo) and it inevitably ends with “Mack The Knife”—sung in Icelandic.
No doubt we’ll see more of Sigríður on Iceland’s stages, but hopefully we will also be regaled with more of Kurt Weill before too long.