Soile Isokoski

Soprano

Soile Isokoski

Soile Isokoski is recognized as one of the world's finest lyric sopranos: particularly renowned for her interpretations of Mozart and Strauss, her repertoire also includes roles by Tchaikovsky, Britten, Poulenc, Puccini and Verdi. After graduating from the Sibelius Academy, she gave her début recital in Helsinki in 1986 and subsequently won a number of important international singing competitions. Her rendition of Four Last Songs and other orchestral songs by Richard Strauss received a Gramophone Award in 2002, and she was awarded with the Pro-Finlandia medal in the same year.

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Johan Botha: Wiener Staatsoper Live

Johan Botha: Wiener Staatsoper Live

1997 - 2014: Beethoven, Wagner, Strauss


Beethoven:

Gott! Welch Dunkel hier! (from Fidelio)

Strauss, R:

Amme, wachst du? (from Die Frau ohne Schatten)

Marjana Lipovšek (Amme)

Zu dir nun, Knabe! (from Daphne)

Ricarda Merbeth (Daphne)

Bin ich ein Gott, schuf mich ein Gott? (from Ariadne auf Naxos)

Soile Isokoski (Ariadne), Valentina Nafornită (Najade), Rachel Frenkel (Dryade), Olga Bezsmertna (Echo), Daniela Fally (Zerbinetta)

Wagner:

Hör' an, Wolfram! … Inbrunst im Herzen (from Tannhauser)

Christian Gerhaher (Wolfram)

Atmest du nicht mit mir die süssen Düfte? (from Lohengrin)

Cheryl Studer (Elsa)

Morgenlich leuchtend im rosigen Schein 'Prize Song' (from Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg)

James Rutherford (Sachs)

Wehe! Wehe! Was tat ich? (from Parsifal)

Angela Denoke (Kundry)


Johan Botha’s unfailingly radiant voice – notably in the middle register – established him over many years as a Strauss and Wagner singer par excellence, but most of all as a youthful hero, and not as a weighty heroic tenor. In fact Tannhäuser was something of a marginal role for him, but what a role! The recording of the Rome episode in the Vienna State Opera premiere of June 16, 2010, with which (after the Florestan aria from Fidelio) the CD’s fourpart Wagner portrait begins with excerpts from Vienna Staatsoper productions, movingly reveals how as a suffering yet passionate pilgrim – at the side of Christian Gerhaher as Wolfram – he returns from Rome dejected and unredeemed. The bridal-chamber scene from the third act of Lohengrin looks back to Botha’s early years at the Staatsoper. Opposite Cheryl Studer as Elsa, he was just 31 years old in 1997. Fifteen years later, Botha is an ideal, alert Walther von Stolzing, who after a night of dreams reveals his Prize Song to cobbler-poet Hans Sachs, who in turn refines it and writes it down. The Franconian knight was known to be his favourite Wagner part ever since his sensational debut in the role at the Vienna Volksoper in 1998. And in 2004, Botha begins his scene with Kundry (Angela Denoke) from the second act of Parsifal as a guileless youth whose cries of “Amfortas!” after Kundry’s kiss and the knowledge that it brings are possessed of a troubling primal force. Three of the loveliest and most important Strauss roles are also to be found on the CD. In addition to the Emperor (Die Frau ohne Schatten), whom Botha had already sung to great acclaim at the Salzburg Festival in 2011 and reprised in 2013 for the 50th anniversary of the reopening of the Nationaltheater in Munich, we hear his proudly dominant Apollo (Daphne). At the climactic moment of the opera, the conflict between the god and the two mortals ends with Apollo’s sudden extinction of his human rival. The most moving scene comes perhaps at the close of Ariadne auf Naxos, when a figure hailed as Hermes, the divine messenger of death, proves to be Bacchus, the god of love, and Ariadne (Soile Isokoski) timidly asks him: “Is there no farther shore, are we there already?” The recording of October 18, 2014 captures one of Johan Botha’s last appearances at the Vienna Staatsoper. He died on September 8, 2016 – aged just fifty-one

“A wonderful (if bitter-sweet) memorial to the magnificent South African heldentenor, who died last September aged just 49; live excerpts from the punishing Strauss and Wagner roles which he sang with such seemingly effortless power and stamina showcase his golden tone and naturally communicative style as a vocal actor.” Katherine Cooper, Presto Classical, April 2017

“The recorded sound is produced to a consistently pleasing quality, and one does sense the special atmosphere of the live performance. Live at Wiener Staatsoper, this first-rate collection is testament to Johan Botha’s assured musicianship in some of his finest Wagner and Richard Strauss roles.” MusicWeb International, August 2017

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Melartin: Traumgesicht, Marjatta & The Blue Pearl

Melartin: Traumgesicht, Marjatta & The Blue Pearl


Melartin:

Traumgesicht, Op. 70

Marjatta, Op. 79

Soile Isokoski (soprano)

Music from the ballet The Blue Pearl, Op. 160


This Ondine release features world prèmiere recordings of three orchestral works by Erkki Melartin (1875–1937), one of the most influential Finnish composers – and symphonists – of the early 20th century. This programme is performed by the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra under their chief- conductor Hannu Lintu.

Traumgesicht is an Impressionistic large-scale symphonic poem written for Alexander Siloti in 1910. In later years Melartin considered it as one of his most important works. Traumgesicht differs from the National Romantic image generally associated with Melartin. It could be described as progressive: the composer was obviously up to date with recent trends, since influences from composers such as Richard Strauss, Debussy, Rimsky-Korsakov and Scriabin may be detected.The work lied unperformed for 81 years until Hannu Lintu brought it back to light by conducting it in Helsinki in 2013.

Marjatta (1914), A Legend from Kalevala, is based on the Finnish national epic and bears hints to Sibelius’ Luonnotar and Melartin’s Aino opera. Both Sibelius’ Luonnotar and Melartin’s Marjatta were written for the same singer, Aino Ackté, in mind. Luonnotar and Marjatta can with good reason be regarded as parallel works or siblings, even though they are very dissimilar in musical style. The solo part of the work is here sung by the celebrated soprano Soile Isokoski.

Music for the ballet The Blue Pearl, completed in 1930, was one of the last major works written by Melartin and, surprisingly, the first full-length ballet written in Finland. Although the ballet music was popular in its own time the work gradually fell into oblivion. Conductor Hannu Lintu has adapted the music of the ballet into a 8-movement concert suite.

“Under Hannu Lintu’s firm guidance they present each piece in a favourable light” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2016

“Valuable and ear-prickling.” MusicWeb International, October 2016

“[Traumgesicht] gets a darkly glowing performance here…[Marjatta is] gloriously sung by soprano Soile Isokoski. It may not be as gripping in its sweep as Sibelius’s work, but it is beautifully evocative.” The Guardian, 21st July 2016 ****

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Mendelssohn: Elijah, Op. 70

Mendelssohn: Elijah, Op. 70


“Herreweghe wipes away layers of Victorian fustiness in this lean-textured, rhythmically incisive performance of period instruments. Effective soloists, lacking the last ounce of drama.” BBC Music Magazine, Christmas 2014 ****

“John Mark Ainsley gives fully of himself, injecting real verve into his arias and many snippets of recitative.” Early Music Today, December 2014

Harmonia Mundi HMHeritage - HMY2921463/64

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Zemlinsky: Der Zwerg, Preludes and Intermezzi

Zemlinsky: Der Zwerg, Preludes and Intermezzi


Zemlinsky:

Der Zwerg

Soile Isokoski (Donna Clara), Iride Martinez (Ghita), Andrew Collis (Don Estoban), David Kuebler (Der Zwerg), Juanita Lascarro (Erste Zofe/First Maid), Machiko Obata (Zweite Zofe/Second Maid), Anne Schwanewllms (Dritte Zofe/Third Maid), Natalle Karl (Erste Gespielin/First Playmate), Natalle Karl (Zweite Gespielin/Second Playmate), Martina Rüping (Zweite Gespielin/Second Playmate)

Overture: Sarema

Prelude to Es War einmal

Es War Einmal: Intermezzo

Kleider machen Leute: two intermezzi

Der Kreidekreis: Prelude to Act 3

Prelude to Act 3 of 'Der Konig Kandaules'


Frankfurter Kantorei & Gu¨rzenich-Orchester Köln, James Conlon

“Kuebler makes a touchingly deluded dwarf in the definitive recording of Zemlinsky's most painfully personal opera.” BBC Music Magazine, December 2013 *****

“The singing is first class, especially Isokoski’s lambent, flickering soprano...The Cologne orchestra is really impressive; one would never suspect that we are listening to a supposedly “provincial” orchestra...The sound is unimpeachable.” MusicWeb International, 26th June 2013

Warner Classics - The Opera Series - 7258752

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Sibelius: Kullervo, Op. 7

Sibelius: Kullervo, Op. 7

The work is based on the legend of Kullervo in the epic Kalevala, which tells the mythic history of the ancient Finns.The huge success of the 1892 première in Helsinki, with Sibelius conducting the Helsinki Philharmonic, turned out to be the big breakthrough of the great Finnish composer's career - a true national hero.


“For epic grandeur and excitement Rasilainen remains first choice. But Segerstam's more poetic, even reflective reading is a compelling alternative.” BBC Music Magazine, July 2008 ****

“As a fine Wagner conductor Leif Segerstam knows something about pacing and maintaining a strong rhythmic profile over the longest spans of musical narrative, and for all the composer's vaunted debt to Bruckner in the instrumental movements, a grander, operatic sweep seems more germane to this always intriguing, sui generis hybrid of symphonic poem, symphony and cantata. Segerstam's second cycle of the numbered symphonies has at points such as the Seventh come a cropper with such largesse of gesture and tempo, but like Segerstam's first recording (Chandos – now available as a download only), is refreshingly straightforward with sound and well chosen tempi. Perhaps partly due to a superbly contoured recording, but also the more keenly expressive responses of the Helsinki orchestra, especially its woodwind, the many transitions in the work seem to count for more, and in 'Kullervo's Youth' achieve a Mussorgskian abruptness and intensity.
That first recording was also graced by Soile Isokoski in the part of Kullervo's raped sister, but here she surpasses herself in creating a selfcontained scena for her third-movement lament, vibrant and enticing before turning bitterly eloquent over her shame. Tommi Hakala and the YL Choir bring a complementary, sappy youthfulness.
If the finale rather goes off the boil, the composer must take some of the blame; Isokoski too, for stealing the show with a contribution to this over-recorded work which deserves to win currency outside connoisseurs of early Sibelius.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

“Leif Segerstam knows something about pacing and maintaining a strong rhythmic profile over the longest spans of musical narrative… …Soile Isokoski in the part of Kullervo's raped sister… surpasses herself - and, I think, anyone else I've heard - in creating a self-contained scena for her third-movement lament, vibrant and enticing before turning bitterly eloquent over her shame.” Gramophone Magazine, October 2008

“Leif Segerstam's performance joins the pantheon of outstanding Kullervo recordings. As one would expect from this quirkily fascinating conductor-composer, his reading takes a different line from the conventional approach to this strange hybrid work...Rather than adopting a monolithic "symphonic" approach, Segerstam emphasises the inherent drama and the protean nature of the whole work. The theatricality is not confined to the incestuous central duet between the hero Kullervo and his sister, sung here with thrilling operatic intensity by Soile Isokoski and Tommi Hakala, but spreads into the outer orchestral movements, too. If conductors such as Osmo Vänskä show Kullervo to be the starting point for the later, purely symphonic journey Sibelius undertook, the Segerstam reveals possibilities in the work that were never followed up, and which would have taken the composer into a different world altogether.” The Guardian, 23rd May 2008 ****

“This latest wholly Finnish production is up there with the best. It reminds us what an audacious work this five-movement quasi-symphony was for its 27-year-old composer, with its pounding rhythms, powerful choral writing and broad range of atmospheres. Leif Segerstam commands these elements with true authority, and the Helsinki Philharmonic responds with playing, by turns elemental and delicate. Soile Isokoski, a soprano who in her vocal edge and intuitive sense of communication can bring to mind Elisabeth Söderström, is a dramatically perceptive foil to Tommi Hakala's appropriately brazen but vocally polished Kullervo.” The Telegraph, 7th June 2008

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Richard Strauss: Orchestral Songs

Richard Strauss: Orchestral Songs


Strauss, R:

Das Rosenband, Op. 36 No. 1

Ich wollt ein Sträusslein binden, Op. 68 No. 2

Säusle, Liebe Myrte, Op. 68 No. 3

Als mir dein Lied erklang, Op. 68 No. 4

Befreit, Op. 39 No. 4

Ruhe, meine Seele!, Op. 27 No. 1

Wiegenlied, Op. 41 No. 1

Meinem Kinde, Op. 37 No. 3

Zueignung, Op. 10 No. 1

Morgen, Op. 27 No. 4

Die heiligen drei Könige aus Morgenland Op. 56 No. 6

Vier letzte Lieder


“Strauss singing doesn't come much better than this. No doubt the composer himself, with his love of the soprano voice, would have been enthralled by Isokoski's glorious singing. He might also have approved of Janowski's straightforward, quite brisk conducting as he was never one to sentimentalise his own music. With a combination of free, unfettered tone, not a hint of strain in high-lying passages, a fine legato and an amazingly long breath, Isokoski fulfils every demand of her chosen songs. To those attributes she adds just a hint of quick vibrato, which she uses unerringly to expressive purpose throughout.
Add the depth of feeling she brings to inwardly emotional pieces such as Befreit, Ruhe meineSeele! and, above all, Morgen!, a perfect realisation of this oft-recorded piece, and you have performances to rival any of the greats of the past.
She reminds one most of Lisa della Casa, the first soprano to record the Four Last Songs, and Sena Jurinac. She has the same smiling timbre, the same natural style, the same avoidance of wallowing in music that contains its own proportion of sentiment. Try the ecstatic execution of the final verse of 'Beim Schlafengehen' and you'll understand. If, on the other hand, you prefer a more leisurely approach, there are always Janowitz and Karajan.
Janowski is obviously at one with his soprano, not only here but also in Zueignung. Refined playing from the Berlin Radio Symphony and an open recording complete the pleasure.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

GGramophone Awards 2002

Winner - Editor's Choice

GGramophone Magazine

Disc of the Month - April 2002

Ondine - ODE9822

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Poulenc: Dialogues des Carmélites

Poulenc: Dialogues des Carmélites

Filmed in HD at the Bayerische Staatsoper (Munich), 03/2010


Alain Vernhes (Marquis de la Force), Susan Gritton (Blanche de la Force), Bernard Richter (Chevalier de la Force), Sylvie Brunet (Madame de Croissy), Soile Isokoski (Madame Lidoine), Susanne Resmark (Mère Marie), Hélène Guilmette (Soeur Constance), Heike Grötzinger (Mère Jeanne) & Anaïk Morel (Soeur Mathilde)

Bayerisches Staatsorchester & Chor der Bayerischen Staatsoper, Kent Nagano

Stage direction and set design: Dmitri Tcherniakov

Costumes Elena Zaytseva, Lighting Gleb Filshtinsky

A passionate lover of the human voice, Francis Poulenc composed the Dialogues des Carmélites in 1953, using a libretto he himself had written from a screenplay by Georges Bernanos. The first ever performances in Munich, this production was entrusted to Dmitri Tcherniakov, whose worldwide reputation is underpinned by productions like Eugene Onegin and Macbeth at the Paris Opera and Don Giovanni at Aixen-Provence.

The superb international cast includes a fine Blanche de la Force in Susan Gritton and an excellent Madame de Croissy by Sylvie Brunet, who was favourably compared to Rita Gorr in the press. They are superbly backed up by Soile Isokoski, Susanne Resmark, Hélène Guilmette, Alain Vernhes and the fabulous Bernard Richter.

Kent Nagano with the Dialogues literally at his fingertips – he recorded a landmark version some years ago – is at the helm of the Bavarian State Opera Orchestra and Chorus.

Duration : 146 minutes

Subtitles : Fr, Eng, Ger, Spa

Colour 16/9, NTSC

PCM Stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1

“[the production is] set in a soulless authoritarian state but filmed in a way that underlines individual dilemmas and common humanity. It is worth watching for Sylvie Brunet’s doughty Madame de Croissy, Soile Isokoski’s gracious Madame Lidoine and Susan Gritton’s winning Blanche.” Financial Times, 4th June 2011 ***

“Tcherniakov's production is probably the most physically active Dialogues ever staged. Everyone is seemingly in constant motion...Sylvie Brunet is a memorably formidable and pitiable Croissy...Helen Guilmette's Constance, lively but never cloying or cute, is immeasurably enhanced by heavenly floated pianissimi...Isokoski, suitably dignified in her role, is in ravishing voice.” International Record Review, July/August 2011

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Poulenc: Dialogues des Carmélites

Poulenc: Dialogues des Carmélites

Filmed in HD at the Bayerische Staatsoper (Munich), 03/2010


Alain Vernhes (Marquis de la Force), Susan Gritton (Blanche de la Force), Bernard Richter (Chevalier de la Force), Sylvie Brunet (Madame de Croissy), Soile Isokoski (Madame Lidoine), Susanne Resmark (Mère Marie), Hélène Guilmette (Soeur Constance), Heike Grötzinger (Mère Jeanne) & Anaïk Morel (Soeur Mathilde)

Bayerisches Staatsorchester & Chor der Bayerischen Staatsoper, Kent Nagano

Stage direction and set design: Dmitri Tcherniakov

Costumes Elena Zaytseva, Lighting Gleb Filshtinsky

A passionate lover of the human voice, Francis Poulenc composed the Dialogues des Carmélites in 1953, using a libretto he himself had written from a screenplay by Georges Bernanos. The first ever performances in Munich, this production was entrusted to Dmitri Tcherniakov, whose worldwide reputation is underpinned by productions like Eugene Onegin and Macbeth at the Paris Opera and Don Giovanni at Aixen-Provence.

The superb international cast includes a fine Blanche de la Force in Susan Gritton and an excellent Madame de Croissy by Sylvie Brunet, who was favourably compared to Rita Gorr in the press. They are superbly backed up by Soile Isokoski, Susanne Resmark, Hélène Guilmette, Alain Vernhes and the fabulous Bernard Richter.

Kent Nagano with the Dialogues literally at his fingertips – he recorded a landmark version some years ago – is at the helm of the Bavarian State Opera Orchestra and Chorus.

Subtitles : Fr, Eng, Ger, Spa

Colour 1080i HD, 16/9

PCM Stereo, DTS HD Master Audio

“[the production is] set in a soulless authoritarian state but filmed in a way that underlines individual dilemmas and common humanity. It is worth watching for Sylvie Brunet’s doughty Madame de Croissy, Soile Isokoski’s gracious Madame Lidoine and Susan Gritton’s winning Blanche.” Financial Times, 4th June 2011 ***

“Tcherniakov's production is probably the most physically active Dialogues ever staged. Everyone is seemingly in constant motion...Sylvie Brunet is a memorably formidable and pitiable Croissy...Helen Guilmette's Constance, lively but never cloying or cute, is immeasurably enhanced by heavenly floated pianissimi...Isokoski, suitably dignified in her role, is in ravishing voice.” International Record Review, July/August 2011

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Soile Isokoski sings Chausson, Berlioz & Duparc

Soile Isokoski sings Chausson, Berlioz & Duparc


Berlioz:

Les Nuits d'été, Op. 7

Chausson:

Poème de l'amour et de la mer, Op. 19

Duparc:

Le Manoir de Rosemonde

L'Invitation au voyage

Chanson triste


Soprano Soile Isokoski is singing orchestral songs by three different French composers in her new recording. The recording includes two major works in the French song repertoire – Ernest Chausson’s Poème de l’amour et de la mer and Hector Berlioz’s Nuits d’été. The disc ends with three finely-crafted miniature songs by Henri Duparc, which are no less of artistic value.

“[The Berlioz] repays a lieder-style sense of detail in both word and expression. This Isokoski certainly has, and it's the more successful performance of the two…Storgårds conducts with unusually clean-cut clarity.” BBC Music Magazine, November 2015

“[Isokoski's] familiar artistry remains intact. Lines are beautifully sustained. Her way with words is subtle and crystal clear, with little sense of interventionist nudging. As always, she aims to let the music speak for itself.” Gramophone Magazine, September 2015

“Isokoski provides, as ever, a masterclass in smooth line and radiant tone in this disc of French music...Isokoski’s singing has an inwardness that here could be mistaken for coolness, but it’s a performance that takes us into her confidence, and at the big moments she soars with the orchestra, even if one might ideally wish for a more voluptuously Wagnerian voice.” The Guardian, 20th August 2015 ****

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Oi Jouluyö (Christmas Carols)

Oi Jouluyö (Christmas Carols)


Soile Isokoski (soprano), John Storgårds (violin)

Lapin Kamariorkesteri, John Storgårds

Ondine - ODE12522

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