Sibelius: Complete Piano Music (Vol. 2)

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COMPOSERS: Sibelius
LABELS: Continuum
WORKS: Complete Piano Music (Vol. 2)
PERFORMER: Annette Servadei (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CCD 1059 DDD
Sibelius wrote over a hundred piano pieces, most of which are little known, although the first track on this disc is an arrangement of the famous Valse triste. The Pensées lyriques, written after he had produced his great, austere Fourth Symphony, show him at the opposite extreme: they’re pleasant, anonymous salon pieces. He revealed a much wider range of character in the Op. 58 piano pieces, which are serious and personal. Almost every other piece in the collection seems to echo more familiar moments in Sibelius’s orchestral music; yet if they are modest as keyboard writing, the ideas don’t sound second-hand and they will doubtless grow stronger with familiarity.

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Between these two collections, the Six Finnish Folksongs are all brief but sombre, and not very gratefully written for piano; yet their laconic suggestion of a fatalistic view of life is haunting. Annette Servadei’s playing is unforced and creates a reflective mood, though the recorded sound is shallow. Adrian Jack