Finnish pianist Paavali Jumpannen’s formidable repertoire includes cycles of Mozart and Beethoven, his Boulez Sonatas are critically acclaimed, and he is a vigorous champion of new music. Jumpannen’s scholarly and voracious approach is reflected in meticulously researched liner notes for this fourth instalment in his cycle of Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas. This set covers seven middle-period works: Sonatas 16-18 (Op. 31, from 1802), and 24-27 (Opp. 78, 79, 81a and 90, from 1809-14).
These are deeply thoughtful readings, restrained and delicate, less volcanic than is often the case but with absolute technical precision and nuance. This is particularly evident in what the pianist terms the “enigmatic arpeggios” of the Tempest Sonata, which in his hands are more rippling than tempestuous and replete with contemplative pauses. The extraordinary trills of Op. 90 are rendered with high drama and expertly-judged balance between the hands, resulting in a breath-taking performance of this sonata, a precursor of the anguished emotionality that would receive fuller expression in Beethoven’s late works.
The recording is rich and present with lovely depth, with a slight tendency to brightness in the upper registers. Listeners interested in these endlessly fascinating sonatas will find much of note in Jumpannen’s interpretations – a valuable addition to an already extensive catalogue.