Selim Palmgren Complete Piano Works Volume 5 focuses on exoticism

Volume five of Grand Piano’s Palmgren focuses on the exotic. As with the other volumes, there are several world premiere recordings. That’s not surprising. Only a fraction of Palmgren’s roughly 400 works has ever been recorded.

What continues to surprise me is the quality and variety of Palmgren’s compositions. He was an excellent pianist. That knowledge allowed him to fully express himself in his piano compositions.

The opening selection, Exotic March, Op. 46, helps set expectations. It’s a jaunty little piece, with an occasional pentatonic figure or two for color. Its vague orientalism is that of the Arabian Nights, or perhaps “The Mikado.”

Most of the works get their exoticism from obscured tonalities. Spring, Op. 47 from 1915, for example, has a dreamy Impressionistic quality to it. The Three Morceaux, Op. 57, written a year later, also seems inspired by Debussy.

The 1934 Sonatine in F major, Op. 95 sounds neoclassical. The themes are tuneful — and catchy. I found it delightful.

Jouni Somero’s performances maintain the level he set with volume one. His playing is clean, accurate, and assured. He also has a deep understanding of  Palmgren’s music. His phrasing helps the listener follow Palmgren’s motives as they overlap and transform.

Another solid addition to this series.

Selim Palmgren: Complete Piano Works 5
Jouni Somero, piano
Grand Piano GP908

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