Author Topic: Paavali Jumppanen Plays Beethoven  (Read 1275 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Todd

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 13834
Paavali Jumppanen Plays Beethoven
« on: December 12, 2015, 11:31:29 AM »
(Pulling the first two posts from the Beethoven Piano Sonatas thread)





Op 2 is bad, very bad.  And it is attributable to Jumppanen's ornamentation in all but the slow movements.  Some ornamentation is cringe-inducing, some ugly, and almost all of it is terrible.  That written, when he plays more directly, he is quite good, recalling his superb playing in the Violin Sonata set with Corey Cerovsek.  His playing in Opp 101 and 106 is also much, much better.  His penchant for the occasional long pause, which also shows up in Op 2, is a mannerism I could live without, but his clarity in the fugues more than offsets quibbles in this regard.  A mixed bag of a set.  I just hope the remaining early sonatas aren't treated similarly to Op 2.  Superb sound.







Jumppanen plays 10/1 in a fairly conventional manner.  The ascending arpeggios in the first movement are nice, as is the rest of the movement; the slow movement is appealing; the final movement is energetic, fast, and meticulously well played.  10/2 starts off in promising fashion, with Jumppanen keeping things light and fun, and just sort of – wait, WTF?  He throws in a mini-cadenza near the end for, well, I have no idea whatsoever.  It doesn't fit at all.  The second movement is fine, and the final movement is generally fine, though some right hand chords sound more like stitched together tone clusters.  10/3 also opens fairly conventionally, with a peppy tempo in the Presto, and not a little in the way of awesome independence of hands.  No hard to follow bass lines here.  The Largo is slow and gloomy and possessed of the extended pauses displayed in the first volume.  Jumppanen ratchets up intensity nicely for the climax and trails off thereafter.  The last two movements are again both pretty conventional, though both are delivered with a nice degree of exuberance.  So, the WTF moment and perhaps a few too long pauses aside, an excellent disc.    

The second disc is devoted to Op 50-something works.  It's always nice to listen to a pianist who can play the opening movement of Op 53 at any tempo he or she chooses while also displaying masterful dynamic control.  Jumppanen doesn't really shine a new light on anything, and his extended pauses at the end aside, doesn't even throw in any quirks.  The Introduzione is a bit slower than normal, but nothing unusual, and the final movement has a basically perfect tempo, a vast dynamic range, and great clarity.  The opening movement to Op 54 displays widely contrasting themes, and Jumppanen displays some mighty clean and accurate playing in the fast sections, and some more slightly extended pauses aside, is pretty straightforward, and the second movement is played in swift, perpetuum mobile style.  Op 57 offers Jumppanen an ability to display his chops again, with wide dynamic swings, precise playing, some loud, fast chords stopping on a dime, and all manner of pianistic pyrotechnics in the first movement.  The Andante is a nice rest, though not without tension where appropriate, that gives way to a fast, intense, clear, hefty, meticulously played final movement.  I can't say there's much passion or emotional involvement; it's just super-snazzy playing.  Jumppanen seems to dash the notes off with ease. 

SOTA sound.
The universe is change; life is opinion.   Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Offline Todd

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 13834
Re: Paavali Jumppanen Plays Beethoven
« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2015, 11:32:14 AM »
(And now the new one)





Twofer three.  The fifth disc in the cycle is devoted mostly to small works – Opp 14 and 49 – with Op 22 separating them.  Jumppanen plays 14/1 pretty straight.  The outer movements are taken at just right tempi and sound quite lovely, and the slow movement displays just a hint of urgency to the playing while still keeping things light.  14/2 starts off even better, with Jumppanen playing the opening movement with singing tone and nice, not overdone articulation.  The Andante starts off slow, sounding like a comic, light, sweet march, and he proceeds through the variations in a like manner until the pounded out coda.  A sheer delight.  The Scherzo is mischievously dashed off with light effortlessness.  Without a doubt, this is one of the finest renditions of this sonata I've heard.  Op 22 starts up where 14/2 left off.  Jumppanen plays the Allegro con brio with almost Pienaar-esque scampering style and speed at times, but he keeps things sounding more conventional when playing fast.  He also plays with some healthy dollops of eminently tasteful rubato throughout.  The Adagio starts off quick and tense in the opening section, and then switches gears to a dark, serious, heavy playing for a while, before lightening up a bit.  The changeups are very well done.  Jumppanen does the whole light, fun outer section, intense fast inner section of the Minuetto superbly well, and then delivers a Rondo with all the elements blended together just right – speed, dynamics, hints of rubato.  A peach of a performance.  In Op 49, Jumppanen once again lets his penchant for ornamentation get the better of of him.  In the first sonata, his ornamentation works somewhat better than in prior outings, adding a bit of heft to the music, but it still doesn't sound right.  The ornamentation in the second sonata is more pronounced, and if still not as bad as in Op 2, it stills doesn't endear itself to me.  This would work better in recital than on disc, I think. 

Disc six opens with Op 26.  Jumppanen plays the opening Andante theme conventionally, then plays the variations with varying degrees of rubato, all of which works well.  The Scherzo is played at a nice, quick clip and displays admirable clarity.  The funeral march is somber and serious and contained at the open, and Jumppanen builds up the tension and volume nicely as the movement progresses.  Jumppanen plays the Allegro at a fast tempo and with buoyant energy.  A snazzy end to a solid performance.  27/1 features nicely a paced and attractive Andante and reprise flanking a vibrant, quick, extremely nimble Allegro – it would be nice to hear Jumppanen play some virtuoso show pieces – which then moves to high boogie factor Allegro molto e vivace, then to slightly quick Adagio that stays somewhat superficial, and then to some more high boogie factor playing in the Allegro vivace.  The Mondschein opens with a conventional sounding, not particularly hazy, not particularly anything Adagio, moves onto a similarly anodyne Allegretto, and finally to a swift  but not particularly memorable Presto.  Sure, there's some rubato and a couple moments where Jumppanen holds a chord a bit longer than normal, but it just doesn't excite.  Everything is meticulously played and attractive, but it just doesn't do much for me.  Op 28 closes out this volume.  In some ways, it displays the same unremarkable character of 27/2.  All of Jumppanen's tempo choices makes sense.  His dynamics, his phrasing, his small little touches, all sound both good but kind of just there.  Only the brief bout of ornamentation near the end of Scherzo is truly noteworthy.  There's no doubting the quality of Jumppanen's playing, but the interpretation just doesn't do much for me.  So, a mixed set, ranging from the idiosyncratic (Op 49), to the sublime (14/2), to the mundane (27/2, 28). 

SOTA sound.
« Last Edit: December 12, 2015, 02:48:36 PM by Todd »
The universe is change; life is opinion.   Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Offline Todd

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 13834
Re: Paavali Jumppanen Plays Beethoven
« Reply #2 on: May 08, 2016, 02:21:18 PM »




Twofer four.  The seventh disc of the cycle contains the Op 31 trio.  Jumppanen plays the Allegro vivace more or less straight.  There's ample drive, clean articulation, and satisfying dynamic range in a well put together opening movement.  The Adagio grazioso offers a bit more.  Beautiful, blurred trills, a fun, scampering accompaniment and a light feel grace most of the music.  Jumppanen's right hand playing in some passages is gossamer light, and his pauses in the coda exceedingly long, but not out of character.  The Rondo is ever so slightly on the leisurely side, but it is also light and fun.  Jumppanen definitely uses the long pause and plays the bars preceding the coda in exaggeratedly slow fashion, but this sonata often benefits from tinkering, and so it is here.  Der Sturm opens with, and returns to, suitably slow, slightly melancholy arpeggios, and alternates with faster passages of high enough energy, but only a few passages really find Jumppanen hammering on the keys.  A fair portion of the playing is lighter, more ''classical'', if you will.  The Adagio's overall tempo is just about right, and within that, Jumppanen allows himself to play some passages very slowly and to deploy the pregnant pause liberally, and to play with more than a modicum of tonal beauty.  The Allegretto is played fast and furious, with ample weight and power, though clarity suffers a bit, though it sounds purposive.  It makes for a fine closer.  31/3 opens with a generally quick and and energetic and lively Allegro, with Jumppanen cavalierly dashing off trills to superb effect, and tossing in one bit of extra-heavy duty left hand playing during a crescendo.  Most satisfying.  Jumppanen plays the Scherzo with great energy, and pounces on the loud outbursts that pepper the movement.  The Menuetto offers a smooth, lovely, slightly leisurely rest before Jumppanen ends the work by playing the Presto con fuoco in a jittery, nearly comically fast way.  He always keeps everything under the strictest control, and always makes it sound easy.  Some of the left hand playing is less than perfectly clear, but that matters not whit when the playing is so good.  A corker of a performance from quite possibly the the best disc of the cycle.

The second disc contains four short works, and opens with Op 78.  Jumppanen plays the Adagio cantabile with a gentle and lovely touch and imbues the Allegro with enough energy and drive, though he keeps it somewhat on the soft side overall.  The Allegro vivace on the other hand is more about exuberant energy while maintaining attention to fine dynamic detail.  Op 79 opens with a light and fun Presto alla tedesca with subtle an effective rubato mixed in, and a gently comedic acciaccatura.  The Andante is generally light with hints of somberness, and then Jumppanen opens the Vivace with a bit of rubato that may or may not be to everyone's taste, but he keeps it fun and jaunty.  Op 81a follows, and Jumppanen plays the first movement with a bit of reticence married to perfect execution.  The second movement is likewise a bit reticent, but Jumppanen plays in more extroverted, joyful fashion in the last movement, though everything is kept under firm if attractive control.  Excellent.  The set closes with Op 90.  Jumppanen plays the first movement pretty quickly overall, and his right hand playing assumes a sharp, biting tone at times, and the fast passages are played with a (purposely I'm guessing) soft-edged aggression.  The second movement is suitable fluid and lyrical and ends a very fine disc.  This is perhaps the finest set in the cycle so far.

SOTA sound.
The universe is change; life is opinion.   Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Offline Brian

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 19614
    • Brian's blog
Re: Paavali Jumppanen Plays Beethoven
« Reply #3 on: May 08, 2016, 06:36:09 PM »
Not really an insightful or detailed post, as yours was, but I just want to chime in that Vol. 3 with Op. 31 and 78-90 is absolutely terrific, as you described, and a total joy to hear. Loved listening to it and now that you've posted this, will probably listen through again this week.

Offline Todd

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 13834
Re: Paavali Jumppanen Plays Beethoven
« Reply #4 on: November 22, 2016, 11:44:30 AM »




Twofer five. The final volume of Jumppanen's cycle opens with Op 7. Jumppanen cruises merrily along in the Allegro molto e con brio, all sprung and controlled rhythm married to hefty crescendi and subtle dynamic shading. The only notable quirk or semi-quirk might be his occasional sustained chord. The Largo starts off slow, yet sounds lively, and finds Jumppanen deploying slightly extended pauses and minor embellishments. About half way in, he slows down a bit more, extends pauses a bit more, and plays chains of notes and chords with exaggerated emphasis. It's both reasonably effective and undeniably affected. The Allegro is livelier, as one would hope, but Jumppanen adds more pronounced embellishments and continues his use of slightly extended pauses to less beneficial effect in the outer sections, and he keeps the middle section fast and under tightly coiled control. The Rondo has some particularly pronounced embellishment early, but when Jumppanen opts to play it straight, the music flows along beautifully. The potentially excessive interventionism rather detracts from the work as a whole, but some or many people may like it.

Op 13 follows. Jumppanen thunders out the opening chord of the Grave, keeps the pace stately and the playing possessed of dynamic forcefulness, backs way off in the transition to the Allegro, and then plays the Allegro at a steady but somewhat reserved pace. He builds up tension and speed a bit, then kind of ruins the effect for a moment when he interjects a blurred embellishment, before returning to more standard and more satisfying playing. The Adagio cantabile is pretty much conventional, without much in the way of heavy interventionism, nor much in the way of excess beauty or emotion. Jumppanen keeps his best playing for the last movement. His overall tempo is just about perfect. He refrains from embellishment. His dynamics are spot-on. He imbues the playing with a sense of intensity and drama that sounds just right. While clearly cut from the same musical cloth as the rest of the playing, it just jells better. Would that the whole was this good.

The second disc of the set and final disc of the cycle contains the last three sonatas in opus number order. Jumppanen plays the opening movement of 109 at a conventional pace and does a fine job of establishing a satisfying sense of late-LvB transcendence. His independence of hands is superb, with finely detailed left-hand playing. He makes sure to hold a couple chords longer than normal, and he slows down in the latter passages, allowing the listener to savor each note and phrase. The Prestissimo is perfectly paced and perfectly controlled, with nothing rushed or strained or sluggish. The clarity of voices is most impressive, and the broad but not overdone dynamic range is perfectly controlled at all times. Jumppanen opens the final movement with a lovely, transcendent, lyrical Andante theme that achieves near Op 111 Arietta levels of goodness, especially as he slows down slightly near the end of the theme. He seems to slow down further at the opening of the first variation, which is simply beautiful. The second variation evokes the "little stars" of 111, the vigorous third is dashed off with a disarming effortlessness, and then Jumppanen moves back to transcendent playing for the fourth variation. The fifth is bold and potent yet also decidedly late-LvB-y, and then Jumppanen returns to quieter sublimity before building up to a powerful climax and then trailing off to a quiet end, with some phenomenally effective right-hand playing of no little precision and control. The cumulative effect is wonderful. This is a great Op 109.

Op 110 continues on in a similar vein. Moderato cantabile molto espressivo as description comes to musical life under Jumppanen's fingers, which makes the keyboard sing sublimely. Even when playing the loudest passages, the playing retains a sheen of beauty, of almost hammerlessness, if you will. (This trait, which Jumppanen has displayed before, makes me think he can play some high-grade Debussy.) Jumppanen plays the Allegro molto at another perfectly judged overall tempo, brings out the dynamic contrasts wonderfully, and plays the ending arpeggio rather gently. The final movement opens with a somewhat formal and almost gruff recitative - gruff in the context of the playing to this point - before transitioning to a morosely beautiful arioso. The transition from arioso to fugue is a bit abrupt, or at least it doesn't seem to flow flawlessly, rendering a somewhat episodic feel. This is observation, not criticism. The fugue is clear, characterized by superb independence of hands once again, and has some beefy, thundering, growling bass in a few spots. The second arioso, with a transition underpinned by notably hefty left hand playing, is a darker reprise of the opening material. The repeated chords are built up to a thundering, slightly extended climax, and these chords are themselves preceded by slightly exaggerated chords. The inverted fugue is masterfully played, and immediately establishes a lighter feeling, equivalent in feeling, though much extended in form, to the arrival in Elysium at the end of Op 111. Another great late sonata.

Jumppanen plays the Maestoso of Op 111 with potent bass, though the sforzandi are not edgy, and he sort of rushes any pauses between notes, to excellent effect. He then plays the Allegro is generally fast, energetic, and vigorous fashion, with beefy left hand playing, with everything under control at all times. Maybe, maybe it could use a bit more bite. Or not. The Arietta starts off serene and elevated, with unusually rich left hand chords. The second half pulls off the suspension of time trick nicely. Jumppanen proceeds to play the first variation in a sublime and simple fashion. It's most effective. The second variation infuses a bit of urgency into the mix, and the third rollicks while remaining sublime. Moving on, Jumppanen plays with a sort of steady, rocking left hand from time to time, and plays the "little stars" with a detached, ethereal coolness. He moves the playing into the more transcendent realm thereafter, playing with blurred legato before the first chain of trills, which are expertly delivered. The second chain of trills serves as a subdued accompaniment for the beautiful glimpse if Elysium which Jumppanen eventually arrives at, and his steadiness, and at times feathery lightness of touch (though not quite all the way to Yamane levels of lightness) bring the work to a practically perfect close. A third great late sonata performance.

Now that the cycle is complete, I have to (well, I don't have to) determine where to shoehorn it in to my personal tiering system. At its best – the critical Op 31 sonatas and the last three sonatas – everything works splendidly, and Jumppanen proves to be a modern day Beethoven player of no mean quality. However, his tendency to embellish earlier sonatas as much as he does, almost all of which I'm not fond of, and the occasional interpretive devices here and there that I don't like, means that I can't really put him in second tier, because of relative lack of consistency. So third tier it is, but, rather like Stephen Kovacevich, the peaks are extremely high indeed. His best performances are great and can be compared to the greats. I've already procured my tickets to two of his recitals next spring where he will be playing four Beethoven sonatas and both books of Debussy's Preludes. Spring cannot get here soon enough.

SOTA sound.


The universe is change; life is opinion.   Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Offline Mandryka

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 8260
Re: Paavali Jumppanen Plays Beethoven
« Reply #5 on: October 09, 2017, 09:36:40 AM »
Re Jumppanen's op 57, I don't quite hear it like Todd when he suggests that it's not particularly involved or passionate. It's true it's not hot headed like Annie Fischer's, but that's a different point.  It made me think of Hamlet's advice to the players

Quote
for in the very torrent, tempest, and (as I may say) whirlwind of passion, you must acquire and beget a temperance that may give it smoothness.

In fact I rather like what Jumppanen makes of it, more than Annie Fischer in fact, though it certainly didn't efface fond memories of Arrau, I'm a bit out of my comfort zone with this music though.
« Last Edit: October 09, 2017, 09:55:59 AM by Mandryka »
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darόber muss man schweigen

Buying Music From Amazon?
Please consider using these links. A small percentage of every sale using these links is passed on to GMG and helps keep this forum online.
Amazon US
Amazon Canada
Amazon UK