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COMPOSERS: Grieg/Chopin
WORKS: Piano Concerto; Piano Concerto No. 1
PERFORMER: Olli Mustonen (piano)San Francisco Symphony/Herbert Blomstedt
Olli Mustonen argues in the notes to this disc that a composer’s interpretative decisions when performing his own work ‘shouldn’t necessarily make all other solutions invalid’. Composers are known to have taken apparently ‘radically different approaches in terms of tempi, dynamics, etc’. But he concludes: ‘when we experience something being interpreted in the right way… it should feel like the only possible way’. His ‘only possible’ view of Grieg and Chopin is wonderfully fresh-minted and unpretentious, emotionally and perceptively mature.


Dignifying music more usually vulgarised, his Grieg is a triumph of folk nuance, lyric fantasy and symphonic resolve. Grieg’s own recordings as a pianist, Mustonen reminds us, combined ‘sensitive nobility’ with ‘humorous vigour’. It is just such qualities, fusing the glorious with the capricious, that distinguish Mustonen’s approach. Advantageously stressing form and intellect, the Chopin is spine-tingling. With elegant support from Blomstedt, here is consummately gifted, infinitely detailed pianism in the poetic service of glittering brilliance, the most loving, rubato-inflected intimacy, and a breathtaking dynamic span. Magnificent. Ates Orga