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Soile Isokoski - soprano / Marita Viitasalo – piano 

An Chloe K. 524;  Abendempfindung K. 523;  Un moto di gioia K. 579
Schubert: Im Frühling D. 882;  Heiss mich nicht reden D. 877 No. 2';  Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt D. 877;  Ellens Gesang III D. 839
Illalla;  Kesäyö;  Rannalta;  Maassa marjani makaavi
Britten: On this Island Op. 11
Sibelius: Kaiutar Op. 72 No. 4;  Längtan heter min arvedel Op. 86 No. 2;  I systrar I bröder I älskande par! Op. 86 No. 6;  Under strandens granar Op. 13 No. 1;  Var det en dröm? Op. 37 No. 4

Wigmore Hall 11 April 2007


Like one of those parcels where you have to remove several layers of wrapping to find the surprise in the centre, this well-balanced programme contained at its heart a tantalising little group of songs by Yrjo Kilpinen (1892 - 1959).

Tantalising, because Kilpinen is a composer we hear so little of these days, although he wrote well over 700 songs. This selection certainly whetted the appetite for more.  The first three were all relatively early works but the final piece, Maassa marjani makaavi (My Love Lies in the Ground) dates from around 1949 when Kilpinen had turned his attention to Finland’s treasury of folk lyrics and ballads, the Kanteletar.  A dour-sounding title conceals a lyrical song with an extraordinary flight of fantasy for the piano in its central section. 

The outer layers of the concert were equally deserving of attention.   Isokoski and Viitasalo, whose twenty year musical partnership has distilled the communication and reaction between them to a very fine art, presented Mozart with elegance and Schubert with eloquence.   

After the interval they turned their attention to Britten and his tricky On this Island cycle.    They caught the spirit of the music to a T, but the words did not come across with sufficient clarity. Finnish is a language which on the page appears to be stuffed full of hard consonants (K’s in particular) and yet sounds soft and melodious when spoken. So how hard it must be for Finns to spit out quick-fire English consonants with force. 

Finally Sibelius, a composer whose songs Isokoski has made very much her own. (She has just won the BBC Music Magazine Disc of the Year Award for her Sibelius Album - Ondine ODE 1080-5).   A perfect way to complete a most rewarding recital, which is scheduled to be broadcast on Radio 3  on Wednesday 2 May at 7pm, and thereafter online. 

Serena Fenwick