Eero Heinonen Returns To Sibelius

Review by: Jed Distler


Artistic Quality: 7

Sound Quality: 7

It’s easy to take a pass on Sibelius’ piano music, since much of it admittedly consists of salon-type fare intended for home use, or innocuous character pieces tossed off in between the more serious symphonies and tone poems. Yet the fact remains that more and more pianists are investigating this repertoire on disc, which contains a good number of minor jewels.

Pianist Eero Heinonen is no stranger to Sibelius. On Ondine he’s featured in sensitive collaborations with Toshiko Arai-Kimanen in the composer’s complete output for violin and piano. He also recorded an excellent recital of Sibelius piano works, issued in 2003 by Warner Classics. In 2015 Heinonen took up solo Sibelius again for the present release.

The pianist generally retains his erstwhile idiomatic flair and sensitivity. He beautifully judges the flow of the F-sharp minor sonatina’s first-movement recitative-like passages, and balances the third movement’s right-hand tremolos against the left-hand melodies to perfection. On the other hand, the first and third Op. 24 selections lack the incisive vehemence with which Janne Mertanen brings them to life. His heavy-handed phrasing pales next to Håvard Gimse’s disarming lilt in the A minor Op. 5 Impromptu (possibly Sibelius’ subconscious “answer” to Schubert’s F minor Moment Musical?), while his adept handling of the E minor Impromptu’s cascading downward arpeggios doesn’t quite shimmer with Leif Ove Andsnes’ suppleness.

If you want to hear Heinonen at his best, seek out his earlier solo Sibelius disc, or a magnificent release on BIS devoted to Einar Englund’s complete piano music. The sonics are clear yet slightly dry in ambience, and Heinonen provides extensive, informative annotations.

Buy Now from Arkiv Music

Recording Details:

Reference Recording: Håvard Gimse (Naxos); Janne Mertanen (Sony)

    6 Impromptus Op. 5; Piano Sonatina in F-sharp minor Op. 67 No. 1; 5 Pieces Op. 75 (“The Trees”); 10 Pieces Op. 24
  • Eero Heinonen (piano)

Share This Review: