A century ago Finland gained independence after a political struggle fuelled by art and music. Does that lie behind Finland’s musical pre-eminence today?
In the world of classical music, there’s nothing quite so subject to hype as pianists and pianism, but with fresh-faced young Turks seeming to bound onto the stage every month, it’s good to know that among all the flash and clatter there is still room for something more considered. And one of the more interesting ‘somethings’ is Paavali Jumppanen, one of life’s more thoughtful musicians, whose artistic balancing act finds him equally at home with Boulez as he is with Beethoven. Paavali Jumppanen. Photo © Colin Samuels In fact, the 42-year-old Finn’s recording of the three Boulez piano sonatas has become a bit of a benchmark in the 12 years since it came out on DG as part of the composer’s 80th birthday celebrations, and now it seems his immaculately produced Beethoven cycle on the Ondine label is drawing similar plaudits, not least in the pages of Limelight. Jumppanen has been playing Beethoven for many years now, and chatting with him over the phone from the US, where he’s currently engaged on a concert tour, he admits to a special connection. “There is something extremely powerful for me in the sort of grand gesture that Beethoven’s music always presents,” he