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]
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.
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'
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
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
Collected reviews and contact at reviews.gramma.co.uk