Masterclass Review: Thomas Linde
by Stijn De Cock
It was Thomas Linde’s turn to present a masterclass today on this beautiful day in Maiori. After the first student performed her piece, Linde’s seemingly reserved demeanor gave way to a spirited and highly informative masterclass. Lei Bi opened the masterclass with a performance of Chopin’s Scherzo No. 2 in B-flat major, Op. 31. “I have always found it interesting how titles of pieces mean different things to different composers,” Linde remarked after Lei’s performance. “Scherzo means joke, yet Beethoven’s Scherzos often are full of boisterous humor, Mendelssohn’s are more lighthearted, while Chopin’s Scherzos are some of his most dramatic and powerful compositions, full of intense contrasting emotional content.” Linde immediately expounded on those remarks by pointing to the opening motive’s question-like inflection, interrupted by a sudden emotional outburst. Throughout the masterclass, Linde stressed the importance of organizing formal sections in order to prevent exact repetition of similar music material. After working with the student, an architectural design was achieved in which each thematic statement fulfilled its own hierarchical role, organizing sections around large-scale climactic moments. Working on the second theme, Linde instructed Lei to “Imagine playing a beautiful nocturne. Don’t you feel the rising major sixth is the most romantic of all intervals? Feel it here as the most expressive moment of this entire theme.” Throughout his teaching of the B-flat Scherzo, Linde never lost track of the importance of balancing local rubatos and expressivity with a sense of continuity, successfully moving the student towards a coherent and well-balanced interpretation. After Myriam Avalos Teie’s playful and energetic performance of Granados’ Allegro de Concerto, Linde briefly mentioned that Granados and Albeniz were the two greatest Spanish composers of the late 19th, early 20th century. Even though their music is infused with Spanish dance-qualities, in this piece, the Allegro de Concerto, the Spanish qualities are pushed away quite a bit, Linde explained. Think of it more as a late-romantic virtuosic showpiece. Working with Myriam to iron out virtuosic passages into flowing and suggestive waves of sound, Linde also pointed out that one has to always adjust one’s playing according to the room one is performing in. “In this room for example, “ Linde said, “since there is some difficulty achieving a clear sound, you have to adjust pedaling and voicing accordingly.” The final piece was performed by Jeong-Eun Lee, who interpreted Haydn’s E-flat Major Sonata, Hob. XVI:49, with a sense of maturity and refinement. Again providing the student and audience with insights on the composition, Linde said: “Only Haydn would use that type of opening gesture; later, it would serve as a prototype for Beethoven’s quirky opening gestures.” Linde also worked on a great deal of musical details, at times bringing out the humoristic qualities of the sonata, at times adding a certain gracefulness and lightness to placement and timbre of the second beat.