Beethoven: Piano Sonatas

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Beethoven
LABELS: Ondine
WORKS: Piano Sonatas: Nos 5-7, Op. 10; Nos 21-23, Opp 53, 54 & 57
PERFORMER: Paavali Jumppanen (piano)


The latest instalment of Paavali Jumppanen’s ongoing Beethoven cycle is thankfully almost free from the eccentricities that marred his recording of Beethoven’s early sonatas Op. 2 (reviewed May 2014). In those, Jumppanen allowed himself to decorate the music at will, and even on occasion to tamper with its harmony, so his interpretations were controversial, to say the very least.

This new disc has just two moments of quirkiness that need to be mentioned. In his eloquent booklet notes, Jumppanen suggests that a fermata in the opening movement of the F major Sonata Op. 10 No. 2 offers the pianist the opportunity to improvise his own lead-in. That’s not the case by any stretch of the imagination, but at least Jumppanen has the decency to restrict his intervention to the repeat of the moment in question, and to make it brief. Then there is the famous moment in the first movement of the Appassionata, where the recapitulation of the main theme occurs before the music’s harmony has resolved properly onto the home key, and while a repeated-note rhythm in the bass introduced in the previous bars continues beneath the theme. For some reason, Jumppanen introduces a conspicuous hiatus before the repeated note settles onto a single pitch, thereby seriously compromising the music’s essential tension and continuity.

But there’s no doubting the brilliance of the pianism on display here, nor that Jumppanen vividly conveys the impetuousness of Beethoven’s writing, especially in the Op. 10 series, with its sometimes unusually quick tempo markings. His performances offer much food for thought.


Misha Donat