Monday, 11 October 2010

Soprano Soile Isokoski Wigmore Hall Monday 11th October

The revelation of today's lunchtime concert wasn't Isokoski's limpid rendering of Schumann's Liederkries (Op. 39), it was the four songs she sang by Henri Duparc. This is a composer I've never heard of before. He stopped composing music at 36 after a nervous illness made it impossible for him to continue. What a loss. He lived for another 40 years and Duparc would have been a name we know - as long as he'd carried on creating songs like these.
There is a tension in his music between a yearning for German romanticism - Duparc was a fan of Schumann, Schubert as well as being a fervent Wagnerite. The fact he wrote lied is proof enough, perhaps. Yet, as a Frenchman he was resistant to the dominance of German art and culture and his studying (piano) with the arch-French composer Cesar Franck gives his music that diffuse quality that is uniquely French. These are songs are silk to wrap yourself in.

There is a piercingly precise quality to Isokoski's lyric soprano voice that thrills. My companion was gobsmacked to hear there was no augmentation to her voice. Were were sitting 20 rows back and the piercing insistence of her fortissimo top notes rained down on us like diamantine hail.

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