Being able to experience the world premiere of Háttatal by Guðmundur Steinn Gunnarsson was an incredible experience of both tranquillity and uneasiness. The work, which is built upon the fascinating idea of bringing poems to life with music instead of words, has given me a deeper and more profound understanding of contemporary music. By seeking inspiration from the structure and rules of Icelandic poems, Guðmundur managed to compose one piece consisting of one hundred seventy-two poems, each built on different sets of rules and structures. Háttatal felt like hearing a million poems at once, only with notes instead of words.
In the beginning, Háttatal gave me this feeling of uneasiness, since it felt so chaotic and unfamiliar to me. However, what I realized later on, is that the chaos of Háttatal was what made the whole experience so special and beautiful. For a long time, I found my head spinning in circles, searching for meaning and understanding in this chaos, and the music was like a puzzle that needed solving. But when the puzzle finally found together, my whole perception of the piece changed and I was able to find calm in the chaos. This, in turn, led me to find the true beauty of Guðmundur’s piece and did the work leave me in some kind of trance for the rest of the concert. Háttatal by Guðmundur managed to give me a glimpse of a world of music that, until now, has been unknown to me and for that, I will be eternally grateful.