Selim Palmgren piano cycle begins

I’m not sure how many volumes a traversal of Selim Palmgren piano music would run. But it should be a lot. Palmgren was a virtuoso pianist and composer. Naturally, a great deal of his catalog is piano music. And he was quite prolific.

Palmgren was one of Finland’s greatest composers, pre-Sibelius. Many of the works receive their world recording premiere with this release.

I like the way pianist Jouni Somero has balanced the program. There is a selection of short piano pieces, a themed collection of pieces, and a piano sonata. They show Palgren equally adept at both long- and short-form composition.

Palgen was a student of Busoni, so there’s no shortage of piano technique exhibited in these works. The 1901 Piano Sonata in D minor sounds especially challenging to perform.

Jouni Somero handles those challenges with aplomb, delivering a terrific performance. I especially enjoyed his playing of the Finnish Lyrical Pieces. Being Finnish, Somero provides additional insight into this music, I think.

Before this release, I was only familiar with Palgren’s five piano concertos. Thrilling as they are, the miniatures presented here help fill out the portrait of the composer.

The recording quality is exceptionally fine, which helped me appreciate Somero’s performances even more.

I’m curious to hear what new discoveries (for me) volume 2 will yield.

Selim Palmgren: Complete Piano Works 1
Jouni Somero, piano
Grand Piano GP867

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