30 May 2012

Trine Wilsberg Lund and Alexander Soddy, Bergen International Festival

Nordic Hour
Haarkon's Hall
28 May 2012

I got chased down a lane today by a (not at all angry) waitress. Something about not paying for the wine glasses. Wine glasses? Glasses of wine!  Same difference! Blame the company: a gorgeous Nordic blonde soprano, a superb 29 year old accompanist and 15 oldies including me. We were investigating "Spring Music in Norway and Iceland" with Renaissance Tours and we were spending six days at the Bergen Internatioal Festival.

We'd all had lunch, us olds, with our guests Trine Wilsberg Lund and Alexander Soddy. We'd heard them the day before in the Hakonshallen - a huge 13C stone baronial hall - as part of the Bergen Festival. In a display of enormous courage the two young people had accepted an invitation to eat with a gang of Aussies who were on a sort of concert version of a pub crawl.

Trine had sung songs by Sibelius, Stenhammar, Alfven, Sjoberg and, very importantly for me, Grieg.  A lot of Grieg. I'd played some of the Grieg lied decades before for an A Mus A friend and I loved them. I had worked with singers all my life so I knew how to pick a bad - and a good - accompanist.

Trine had selected songs that showed off her beautiful (lyric?) soprano: a lovely strong head voice with assured high notes and a rich chest voice with no growl and no break in transition from head to chest. But best of all she had the skill and musicianship to sing high notes p, pp and ppp with full depth of tone. That singing was both rare and beautiful.

The singing was simply delightful! We were entranced - sitting in the secod row just behind her proud parents, her sister and her friend from kindy - and one or two of us were moved to tears. We heard Grieg and Norway that day, not the singer, because the songs were in the singer's heart and she gave  each phrase the space it needed to beathe and live.

Over lunch we talked to Alexander about his sensitive accompanying defined as being alongside, about listening (of course he does; she's his fiance) about his career so far from a music degree at Cambridge, moving to Hamburg, meeting Simone Young, becoming her repetiteur and conducting protege, conducting opera and the enormous value of the transition from accompanist through opera work to symphonic conducting so that the conductor lets each phrase breathe. His career so far and his appointments were of a great musician in his own right.

Soon the lunch chatter turned to the Melbourne Recital Centre and Elizabeth Murdoch Hall; a wonderful place to start an Australian recital tour. Soon! Please?

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