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Tauno Marttinen: Piano Works

Release Date: 11/08/2011 
Label:  Fc Records   Catalog #: 9748   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Tauno Marttinen
Performer:  Jouni Somero
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 5 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

MARTTINEN Taara Suite. Piano Sonata, Op. 90. Pääsiäinen ( Easter ). Kimalluksia ( Gleams ). Sonata III for Piano, Op. 214b Jouni Somero (pn) FC 9748 (65:31)

Read more /> This is a weird and interesting album. Finnish composer Tauno Olavi Marttinen (1912-2008) studied music during the 1920s and ’30s, originally planned to be a concert pianist, but instead gravitated to the life of a composer. Most of his work, the notes tell us, came as music director of the Hämeenlinna Music Institute of which he was director from 1950 to 1975. He apparently went through several periods from a pre-World War II nationalistic late-romantic style to his mature style, developed while at Hämeenlinna. This later style, initially informed “by dodecaphonic ideas,” eventually blossomed out into a free-form in both structure and tonality. These are the works we hear on this CD, composed between 1967 ( Taara ) and 1982 (Sonata III).

Fortunately, I’ve heard a few of Somero’s CDs of more familiar material to be able to get a handle on his approach to these works. Essentially, Somero is a lyrical pianist in everything he plays, whether the futuristic works of Rebikov or a late romantic like Rachmaninoff. In some cases this approach works splendidly; in others, I find that Somero eschews some rhythmic excitement in order to focus on the harmonic richness of a work. In Marttinen’s music, which was unfamiliar to me, I felt that he was entirely in his element and vice versa: the music was entirely suited to his style. (This seems to me an unusual approach from a pupil of György Cziffra, whose playing was nothing if not dynamic, but there you are.) The ruminative, almost meditative quality of this harmonically ambiguous but not unattractive music is brought out with great sensitivity and a rich, deep-in-the-keys touch, both hallmarks of Somero’s style. (I think, perhaps, that his emphasis on tone color and richness of sound over visceral excitement stems from his early studies on the organ.) Without having heard any other performances of this music, I can attest that Somero makes it both fascinating and attractive. Never once does one get the feeling that a single piece is losing structure or overstaying its welcome. If I had to use a one-line characterization, I’d say that Marttinen was the Finnish Messiaen, except that the latter’s tendency at times towards loud, dark-sounding tone clusters is missing in the Finn. (In another frame of mind, listening to the remarkably Tao-like Piano Sonata of 1974, I felt there was also an affinity to such earlier composers as Charles Koechlin.) Although the CD info does not claim these as world premiere recordings, I could not find any other versions of these pieces currently available on CD.

Most of these works, being minimal in their thematic material and ruminating in development, are difficult to describe in words. It’s a bit like trying to describe the way a cloud you see from the base of a mountain becomes merely a wisp of fog if you are near the top. Yet I can assure you that this recital makes a wonderful impression: It is perfect music for a cold, rainy day, as it allows you to just sit and meditate and focus the mind on the musical progression. Highly recommended.

FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley
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Works on This Recording

Taara, suite for piano, Op. 34 by Tauno Marttinen
Performer:  Jouni Somero (Piano)
Period: Modern 
Written: 1967 
Venue:  Kuusaa Hall, Kuusankoski, Finland 
Length: 16 Minutes 14 Secs. 
Piano Sonata, Op. 90 by Tauno Marttinen
Performer:  Jouni Somero (Piano)
Period: Modern 
Written: 1974 
Venue:  Kuusaa Hall, Kuusankoski, Finland 
Length: 17 Minutes 2 Secs. 
Pääsiäinen (Easter), for piano, Op. 66 by Tauno Marttinen
Performer:  Jouni Somero (Piano)
Period: Modern 
Written: 1971-1972 
Venue:  Kuusaa Hall, Kuusankoski, Finland 
Length: 11 Minutes 19 Secs. 
Kimalluksia (Gleams), for piano, Op. 134 by Tauno Marttinen
Performer:  Jouni Somero (Piano)
Period: Modern 
Written: 1977 
Venue:  Kuusaa Hall, Kuusankoski, Finland 
Length: 7 Minutes 34 Secs. 
Piano Sonata No. 3, Op. 214b by Tauno Marttinen
Performer:  Jouni Somero (Piano)
Period: Modern 
Written: 1982 
Venue:  Kuusaa Hall, Kuusankoski, Finland 
Length: 12 Minutes 38 Secs. 

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