Beethoven: Piano Sonatas Vol. 3

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COMPOSERS: Beethoven
LABELS: Ondine
ALBUM TITLE: Beethoven: Piano Sonatas
WORKS: Piano Sonatas Op. 2 Nos 1-3; Op. 101, Op. 106
PERFORMER: Paavali Jumppanen
CATALOGUE NO: ODE 1248-D

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Undoubtedly the most controversial aspect of Paavali Jumppanen’s performances is his treatment of the repeats in the first two Piano Sonatas of the early triptych Op. 2. In order to give himself maximum opportunity to decorate the music, Jumppanen takes every repeat, even in the da capo of the minuet or scherzo. He not only liberally ornaments the melodic lines, but also occasionally even changes the harmony, or inserts a mini-cadenza into a pause. Beethoven may well have done something similar when playing the pieces himself, but mere interpreters would do well to remember the reprimand his pupil Carl Czerny received after taking liberties during a performance of the Quintet for piano and winds, Op. 16. Beethoven told Czerny that he would rather have heard his work performed exactly as it was written. Certainly, Jumppanen is prodigiously gifted, and he provides deeply felt accounts of the slow movements, and dazzling pianism of the outer movements of the A major and C major Sonatas, but those departures from the script elsewhere won’t be to everyone’s taste.

Jumppanen offers an eloquent performance of the Hammerklavier Sonata’s Adagio and dispatches its colossal concluding fugue at a speed close to the composer’s fast metronome marking. The scherzo is marred by exaggerated pauses between phrases – a mannerism that emerges elsewhere in this recital, too. Good recording sound adds to the allure of these otherwise stimulating performances.

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Misha Donat