19 May 2015

A great treat

Paavali Jumpannen is now on his 6th visit to Australia from his native Finland and he's well noted. ABCFM is broadcasting him with the Melbourne Symph and he's toured with the ACO and he's playing in day or so at the Melbourne Recital Centre. All serious stuff. I've caught him on two of his previous tours and this time I particularly realised the pleasure of hearing such a player in such an intimate setting. This was the Finnish Embassy and we had front row seats, perhaps two metres from his Yamaha C-5. This is being a part of the music. I seldom observe faces of players, but being so close was inevitable: Paavali was involved and aware but also strangely distant. He was not reading: his playing was from memory. He's obviously got a prodigious repertoire, too. He's recorded sonatas from Beethoven and Boulez (with great acclaim) and works of Messiaen. He's been studying the music of Schumann and his final work this night was his Sonata in F# minor Op.11 Before that was Debussy preludes and selected Sibelius. The Debussy was a dream, all images of veils and Delphic dances and wind and hills and snow and all so visually perceptive. I could observe every image that was being portrayed. The Sibelius was more chordal but also touched on imagery at times. His Scherzino was amusing and my favourite. The Schumann was complex and varied and symphonic in extent. It's apt that Beethoven was mentioned in relation to Schumann. But it was as much Paavali's performance that particularly involved me. There's something extra when a really capable player performs. Playing from memory is helpful. It leaves mental space for expression beyond the dots. The notes may clump or explode in seemingly careless array or weave delicate patterns or fall or bounce but it's all one. Paavali was like this. Detailed, knowledgeable, rough, tumbled, all deeply expressive. I got closer to all these composers than before. Maybe I'm more attuned after recently playing symphonic music, maybe I was listening better on this night, but Paavali had me following the closest details of phrasing and dynamics and articulation. This was something special. We're lucky here, in Canberra, with Henk and the Finnish Embassy, to be able to be up so close. If you missed him on his 6th visit, don't miss him on his 7th. Paavali Jumpannen is a great treat.

Paavali Jumpannen (piano) performed Debussy, Sibelius and Schumann at the Finnish Embassy.

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