Notes and Editorial Reviews
The piano music of Erkki Salmenhaara (1941-2002) resembles his orchestral output's stark textures, rich modal sound world, and mesmerizing repeated figures that change ever-so-slightly with each reiteration. You notice this in the deceptively static arpeggios divided between the hands in the second movement of the Second sonata, as well as in the finale's gentle Allegro, where an ostinato provides a jumping off point for simple singing lines that resemble simplified Schumann and the theme from the 1960s television comedy series F Troop. Seamless phrases alternate between duple and triple time in the oddly affecting Theme and Variations, based on the Sibelius scholar Erik Tawaststjerna's name.
"Moonlight" sonata first movement cast in the style of late Liszt as rewritten by Sibelius at his bleakest and you'll get an idea of what the Third sonata's second movement sounds like. While the First and Fourth sonatas are similarly hypnotic and austere, the Seventeen Small Pieces dating from 1958-60 and the five-movement Little Suite from 1980 are more varied in mood and unpredictable from a rhythmic standpoint.
Perhaps there's more potential for colorful nuance and incisive phrase shaping than Jouni Somero's solid yet plain-spoken pianism is willing to concede, yet he serves Salmenhaara well enough to recommend this release to listeners looking for unusual and unjustly obscure 20th century piano fare. But what's the significance of the black cat featured in the CD booklet cover photo?
--Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com
Works on This Recording
Be the first to review this title