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Edvard Grieg was one of those composers who loved his national folklore. A seldom-heard work of this nature is the Haugtussa ('The Mountain Maid'). Mezzo-soprano Lyudmila Shkertil sang the nine songs with warmth and wonderful emotion that clearly told the story without having to understand the Norwegian words. (A booklet offering translations was provided.) Yuri Serov was her sensitive collaborator at the piano.

The harmonies were readily identifiable as Grieg, but Ms Shkertil made them her own in this bravura performance. Such is her talent and skill that the meaning of each song was readily apparent even without following the translation. Her vocal clarity is excellent throughout her rather wide range. At all times, her voice remains beautiful. Apparently she specializes in song stories of this type, and I'm looking forward to hearing more of them during the week.

After the interval, it was Schubert again -- this time Death and the Maiden by the Cuarteto Casals. Schubert was, of course, a supreme melodist who created gorgeous harmonies. Hearing a well-known work of this type by performers of such high quality at close proximity allows one to hear all the inner lines not always readily discernible in a larger venue. It can also be astonishing to discover how much sound can be produced by the members of a string quartet when they put their hearts and bowing arms into it! It was an invigorating and sensitive performance.

As to Madame Leonskaja's encores? Serendipity allowed me to ask her personally, when, returning to my room after breakfast, the lift doors opened to find her waiting there. (Going down to practice, I suspect.) I intruded on her peace to inquire. 'They were both Impromptus by Schubert', she replied, graciously. I thanked her as politely as possible, and informed her that I thought her recital was fabulous. I do believe that as wonderful as everything has been, come the end of the festival, her recital will still be on my list of highlights!

There's a full list of events scheduled for Monday. More to come from me, as well.

Continue to day four >>

Copyright © 3 July 2007 Kelly Ferjutz, Bantry, Ireland



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