Magazine article Gramophone

Palmgren

Magazine article Gramophone

Palmgren

Article excerpt

Palmgren

Piano Concertos (a)--No 4, 'April', Op 85; No 5, Op 99. Exotic March. A

Pastorale in Three

Scenes, Op 50

(a) Janne Mertanen pf

Pori Sinfonietta / Jan Soderblom

Alba (F) [SACD] ABCD400 (63' * DDD)

Selim Palmgren (1878-1951) appeared in these pages far more frequently in days of yore than he does now. His star has faded, unfairly I think, so this release is thrice welcome--repertoire (there is currently little of any of his music available on any label), and performance and recording quality, both of which are first class.

Last year David Fanning gave a cautious welcome to the first three (of Palmgren's five) piano concertos with the same orchestra and conductor (Henri Sigfridsson was the soloist), reminding us that the best of the quintet is No 2, The River, and of Palmgren's episodic approach to the form. This is true of both concertos on this second volume, where one is aware of a profusion of more or less interesting and arresting ideas which float pass the window never to be seen again. While the music is in a genial, late-Romantic idiom (though No 4 veers heavily towards Impressionism), it is hard to get a handle on where it is going. The single-movement (18'20") Fourth Concerto was written mainly in Rochester in 1924 when Palmgren was (perhaps surprisingly) professor of composition at the Eastman School of Music, and completed in his native Finland three years later. The Fifth Concerto (1940-41) was composed, he said, 'to the accompaniment of bombs exploding'. …

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