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Hans SEELING (1828-1862)
Barcarolle, Op. 9 [5:18]
Impromptu and Romance, Op. 8: No. 2, Romance [3:53]
Loreley, Op. 2 [3:36]
12 Concert Études, Op. 10 [30:31]
Jouni Somero (piano)
rec. Kuusaa Hall, Kuusankoski, Finland, 2017
FC RECORDS FCRCD-9760 [43:00]

Finn Jouni Somero has already won his discographical spurs with five volumes of Finnish piano music. To this roster can be added further single CDs and, in some cases, multi-CD sets of the piano music of Bortkiewicz, Rebikov, Henselt, Reinhold, Godard and Salmenhaara.

Somero here bears high the modest pennant of composer Hans Seeling who, though he had a German name, was in fact Czech. Seeling died young, of lung disease, having attained the age of just 34. Dying young is no guarantee of musical substance or worth and we find that Seeling’s unassuming talent was a minor one. The works here are proof of that. If there are raving masterworks from Seeling then I have yet to hear them. His capacity to please nevertheless emerges unimpaired and is burnished by Somero’s advocacy.

This is a comparatively short-playing disc but these appear to be world premiere recordings. Somero adroitly points up the melancholy qualities that Seeling's Concert Studies owe to Chopin and Field. Before we get to them there’s the second piece in Seeling's op. 10. This romance evinces a fluent chiming flow that owes something to Schumann and foreshadows Grieg. Loreley has a more imperious turbulence but does not lose touch with the trilling undertow which is common to most of these pieces. It seems to have been something in Seeling's inventive DNA. In the Concert Études there is more "donner und blitzen" in numbers 6, 8 and 12 while the glinting Étude No. 11 keeps the chandeliers swivelling. Seeling seems to have been a sturdy and steady keyboard practitioner. Just occasionally his music suggests something more, as in the last and most belligerently protesting of the Concert Etudes.

The notes are minimal but as a musical christening for a forgotten composer the experience of hearing these works in Somero's hands is to be welcomed.

Rob Barnett

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