This was a really interesting morning. The TSMF runs a “fellow” program for singers and collaborative pianists and this morning, as part of that program, there was a masterclass with Finnish soprano Soile Isokoski. There were eight singers and four pianists with seven German songs (Strauss, Schubert and Wolff) and one in Finnish prepared (and preparing a Finnish piece for an Isokoski masterclass reminds me of that Youtube thing of the kitten walking down a line of Alsatian guard dogs). It was classic masterclass format. Each singer sang their piece and then went over fine points; diction, legato, phrasing, breathing, emotion, colour, at Ms. Isokoski’s direction. It was fascinating.
Today’s lunchtime concert in the RBA was a recital of Nordic art songs given by students from the University of Toronto’s music programme. The musical line up could certainly have been chosen for more variety. With the exception of some Sibelius at the end it was all a bit “Grieg and his buddies greatest hits”. This was rather reinforced by MC Steven Philcox’s rather prolix introductory remarks on each composer which can be summed up as as:
X was born into a wealthy family in Stockholm/Oslo/Copenhagen in 1840/50/60 and despite his father’s wish that he study law/medicine/for the Diplomatic he decided on a career in music and studied composition in Berlin/Dresden/Leipzig. His music was influenced by Swedish/Danish/Norwegian folklore. He wrote lots of stuff including no less than 200/400/800 songs for voice and piano