Jouni Somero presents Palmgren’s “American” music in Vol. 4

Selim Palmgren studied with Ferruccio Busoni.  So it’s not surprising that he had incredible pianistic chops. Palmgren’s keyboard skills let his musical imagination roam unfettered — especially in his piano music.

This volume of Grand Piano’s series features works written during Palmgren’s time in America. Palmgren emigrated to the United States in 1921. He joined the Eastman School of Music faculty in 1923. In 1936 he became part of the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki.

Jouni Somero presents a dazzling program of short piano pieces. Most were composed between 1921 and 1936. Many receive their world premiere recording with this release.

Palmgren had incredible technique. But his music was never about showing off his skill. Rather, it was about exploiting the possibilities his playing abilities opened up.

Several of these pieces often have two or more lines playing in different registers. It’s not readily apparent to the listener. But if you look at the score, you’ll see many instances where Palmgren’s melodies flow from hand to hand. And at the same time, both hands also provide accompaniment.

As always, Somero’s playing is impeccable. He doesn’t just nail the technical challenges. He also brings out the lyricism in these works.

And that’s what makes each of these pieces a treat to listen to. If you enjoy Liszt, Busoni, Chopin, and/or Rachmaninoff, give this album a listen. You won’t be disappointed.

Selim Palmgren: Complete Piano Works 4
Jouni Somero, piano
Grand Piano GP907

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