Beethoven: Piano Sonatas – Nos 5-7 in C minor, F major and D major, Opp 10; No 21 in C major, Op 53 (Waldstein); No 22 in F major, Op 54; No 23 in F major, Op 57 (Appassionata)

Reviewed on Fri 08 May, 2015

The last Paavali Jumppanen Beethoven set I reviewed for Classical Ear (on 27 May 2014) featured the sonatas Sonatas Opp 2 Nos 1-3, 101 & 106 (Ondine ODE 1248-2D), the early sonatas given treatment “where every repeat is greeted with lavish embellishments – not just the odd prettifying appoggiatura, but reams of added notes.” At first I feared that much the same might happen with the epoch-making Op 10 set but, happily, it doesn’t. Here, as before, Jumppanen articulates with the utmost clarity, his tone full-bodied, his approach to the slow movements probing and expressive. And he can really kick up a storm, as he does in the finale of Op 10 No 1, where he pushes the curve of dynamics, bending the line provocatively towards the end of the exposition. I like the broad pacing for the Adagio molto that prefaces the Waldstein’s closing Rondo. Jumppanen relishes Op 54’s harmonic sophistication, and in the second movement seems to point out parallels with Bach’s First Keyboard Sonata (ie. at 2'46”). There’s plenty of suspense in the Appassionata, too, with some subtle but telling pauses. Exceptional, and beautifully recorded.
–Rob Cowan