The recordings released by Finlandia Records of the five piano concertos of Selim Palmgren (1878–1951) in the 1990s were welcomed with enthusiasm. While the piano playing was impeccable, otherwise the recording left much to be desired.
On Alba’s new recording of Concertos nos. 1–3, turning to the orchestra of Palmgren’s native Pori seems only right and proper. The Pori Sinfonietta has advanced hugely under Jan Söderblom.
Though this recording is not hands-down sensational, it is a clear improvement on its predecessors as far as the carefully considered interpretations and production values go. This aesthetic suits Henri Sigfridsson excellently, and he makes the most of Palmgren’s brilliant solo parts in The River (Piano Concerto no. 2) and Metamorphoses (no. 3) without reducing them to shallow virtuoso vehicles.
Söderblom is an alert conductor, and even if the strings sound unduly thin at times, there is a passionate attitude to making music that compensates. The filler, op. 78 for violin and piano, is surprisingly substantial.
Translation: Jaakko Mäntyjärvi
PALMGREN: The River
Piano Concertos 1–3; Pieces for violin and piano op. 78
Henri Sigfridsson (piano), Jan Söderblom (violin; cond.), Pori Sinfonietta
Alba ABCD 385