Stanley MYERS (1930-1993)
Cavatina (from: 'The Deer Hunter') [5:39]
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Adagio Sostenuto (from: Piano Sonata op.27 no.2) [9:48]
Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918)
Clair de Lune (from: Suite Bergamasque) [6:36]
Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849)
Waltz in D flat, op.64 no.2 [1:49]
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) arr. Alexander ZILOTI (1863-1945)
Air (from: Suite in D, BWV 1068) [6:35]
Prelude in B minor (from: Prelude in E minor, BWV 855a) [3:18]
attrib. Giulio CACCINI (1551-1618) (spurious)
Ave Maria [5:19]
Vladimir REBIKOV (1866-1920)
Christmas Tree [2:36]
Manuel de FALLA (1876-1946)
Ritual Fire Dance (from: El Amor Brujo) [3:37]
Louis Moureau GOTTSCHALK (1829-1869)
The Banjo [3:14]
Heino KASKI (1885-1957)
Yö Meren Rannalla, op.34 no.1 [4:47]
Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957)
Kuusi op.75 no.5 [4:07]
Erkki MELARTIN (1875-1937) arr. Jouni SOMERO (b.1963)
Prinsessa Ruususen Juhlamarssi [4:53]
Jouni SOMERO (b.1963)
Artun Masurkka [1:37]
Etydico [3:16]
Franz LISZT (1811-1886)
Hungarian Rhapsody no.6 in D flat [6:27]
attrib. Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) (spurious)
Das Butterbrot [1:29]
Jouni Somero (piano)
rec. Kuusaa Hall, Kuusankoski, Finland, 9-10 February 2012. DDD
FC-RECORDS FCRCD 9745 [75:11]
Having only just reached the end of his cycle of the complete solo piano works of Sergei Bortkiewicz for FC-Records, the tireless Finnish pianist Jouni Somero has already been back in the studio to put together this appealing collection of 'encore' pieces.
Somero takes a fairly plodding tempo through the opening Cavatina - the nearly six minutes feel a lot longer. He takes the same pace through Beethoven's 'moonlit' Adagio Sostenuto, which is fine for the adagio sections, but obviously wrong for the middle allegro. Rather surprisingly, at least from the point of view of variety, Somero is even slower for the opening of Debussy's Clair de Lune. He finally shifts up a gear halfway through it, and then shows he can also do 'fast' in Chopin's famous Waltz and elsewhere.
In fact, it is probably unfair to hold Somero responsible for the rather monotone opening order. Once his 'recital' gets going, indeed, there is plenty of variety both in tempo and mood. Moreover, Somero exhibits a combination of sensitivity and technique, expressiveness and panache, that can hardly fail to impress. Where he displays sensational dexterity and stamina in Gottschalk's The Banjo or Falla's Ritual Fire Dance, he is also movingly delicate in Sibelius's Kuusi and the transcription of the haunting Ave Maria by "Caccini" (see below). Somero in 2012 seems a much more rounded performer than he was in the first discs of that otherwise commendable Bortkiewicz cycle, and especially in his earlier volume of Erkki Salmenhaara's music, also for FC-Records (see review).
Overall, Somero's assemblage of encores is very well chosen: atmospheric, melancholic pieces intermingling with jaunty, uplifting items to give a fundamentally relaxing seventy-five minutes of listening that is neither 'easy' nor 'difficult'. Somero's own two pieces, incidentally, are small but well-formed, the sparkly Etydico in particular - 'Etydico' is a pun on the Finnish word 'etydi' ('étude') and tico-tico, the Brazilian bird and song made famous by Carmen Miranda in the 1940s.
The accompanying booklet is more of a leaflet, with a minimalist level of detail provided. Most annoyingly, there is no information at all about the music: where the pieces originated, when they were written or who arranged the many that are arrangements. The casual music fan will be disappointed too by the lack of composer dates or biography - even first names, in some cases. There is also no more than a generic biography of Somero - as used in his many previous recordings for FC-Records. Capitalisation is inconsistent and there is also the occasional silly typo, most obviously Bach/Siloti's "Prelude in h minor". Das Butterbrot (a.k.a. La Tartine de Beurre and by various other titles) is misattributed to Mozart - even Köchel in his 1860s catalogue knew this was wrong. Ditto Vladimir Vavilov's Ave Maria, ascribed to Giulio Caccini, as bogus an attribution as famous the Adagio for organ and strings "by Albinoni". The photos on the cover and back are rather misleading - there is no orchestra in any of these pieces, and if there is an audience it is the most silent on record.
These minor quibbles aside, however, this is a generously proportioned CD of widely appealing music well played by Somero and very professionally recorded.
Collected reviews and contact at reviews.gramma.co.uk
A generously proportioned CD of widely appealing music well played by Somero and very professionally recorded.