BEETHOVEN Piano Sonatas Opp 14, 22, 26, 27, 28 & 49
Paavali Jumppanen’s latest double-CD release proves the most consistently engaging so far in his Beethoven sonata cycle. The rhythmically astute yet flexible fingerwork, lean yet well-modulated sonority and stylish intelligence that I praised in Jumppanen’s Op 10 sonatas on Vol 2 (6/15) extend to the little Op 14 pair introducing this third volume. The G major sonata (No 10), in particular, stands out for Jumppanen’s caustic demeanour and stinging fortes in the central movement’s detached chords and for his playfully angular delineation of the finale’s upward scales. By pushing certain passages slightly ahead of the beat, Jumppanen underlines the Op 22 Allegro con brio’s implicit opera buffa qualities, while his avoidance of all things foursquare in the two ‘easy’ Op 49 sonatas evokes Artur Schnabel’s ‘sophisticated simplicity’. Add astute voice-leading to Richter’s winged fingerwork in the Op 26 Scherzo and toccata-like finale and you get the essence of Jumppanen’s bracingly clear reading.
His invigorating Op 27 No 1 lives up to the work’s quasi una fantasia subtitle. The Allegro following the opening Andante hits you like an unexpected cyclone. The Scherzo is a tad contained to scamper irreverently, yet strategic accents and crescendos keep the music on edge. Unlike the many Moonlight Sonata Adagios that swoon over the famous right-hand melody, Jumppanen’s zeroes in on bass-lines, and he brings a refreshingly insistent groove to the arpeggios. In this context, I expected a less sedate Allegretto, along with more perceptible agitato in the Presto finale.
Because Jumppanen shapes the Pastoral Sonata’s first movement’s accompaniment with lots of colour and tonal heft, I’m surprised that he underplays the Andante’s woodwind-like writing. At the same time, the Scherzo paradoxically fuses controlled calibration and nervous energy. Jumppanen’s command of voice-leading and textural differentiation in the Rondo finale is akin to a three-dimensional chess master, even if the difficult final pages are more of a knockout punch than a decisive checkmate. The pianist’s insightful booklet-notes add value to this largely compelling release, as does Ondine’s immaculate sound.