Sibelius: Piano Music, Vol. 1: Impromptus, Op. 5; Piano Sonata in F

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COMPOSERS: Sibelius
LABELS: Naxos
WORKS: Piano Music, Vol. 1: Impromptus, Op. 5; Piano Sonata in F
PERFORMER: Håvard Gimse (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 8.553899
Apart from Kempff and Gould, Sibelius’s piano music has never attracted the advocacy of pianists of international standing. All the same, in recent years there have been a number of good recordings by Ralf Gothóni, Marita Viitasalo, Risto Lauriala and Annette Servadei. Even if Sibelius did not think naturally in terms of the piano, he never writes, as Gould put it, against the grain of the instrument. The Sonata and the Impromptus come from 1893, the year in which En saga was composed, and the former has a genuine sense of momentum and some often attractive ideas. The Ten Pieces, Op. 24, were written at various times over the next decade (1894-1903). Let me say straight away that in the Norwegian pianist, Håvard Gimse, they have found a most persuasive interpreter. He produces consistent beauty of sound and is unfailingly musical. Phrases breathe naturally throughout and are shaped with intelligence and feeling. Moreover he brings to this repertoire an imagination and natural eloquence that allow the music to speak for itself yet still makes it sound new. The once over-familiar Romance in D flat is pleasingly fresh and unsentimental. Distinguished playing and the best performances and recording I have heard of this repertoire. Robert Layton

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