Paavali Jumppanen Piano

Paavali Jumppanen | Photo: Maarit Kytöharju

In the brief span of recent seasons, the imaginative and versatile Finnish virtuoso Paavali Jumppanen has established himself as a dynamic musician of seemingly unlimited capability who has already cut a…

In the brief span of recent seasons, the imaginative and versatile Finnish virtuoso Paavali Jumppanen has established himself as a dynamic musician of seemingly unlimited capability who has already cut a wide swath internationally as solo recitalist, orchestral collaborator, recording artist, artistic director, and frequent performer of contemporary and avant-garde music. Mr. Jumppanen has performed extensively in the United States, Europe, Japan, and Australia and is known for his remarkable expressivity and intense musical curiosity. He has shared the stage with many great conductors, among them David Robertson, Sakari Oramo, Osmo Vänskä, and Jaap van Zweden. He has commissioned numerous works and collaborated with pivotal composers such as Boulez, Murail, Dutilleux, Penderecki, as well as his own generation of Finnish composers. In particular he also been praised by the Boston Globe for the “overflowing energy of his musicianship” and by the New York Times for playing of “power and an extraordinary range of colors.”

During the 2018–19 season, Mr. Jumppanen concertizes in the United States, China, India, and various European countries. During the fall 2019 he appears as the soloist of the two piano concertos by Brahms in Helsinki, appearing with the Tapiola Sinfonietta conducted by Mario Venzago and the Helsinki Philharmonic conducted by Susanna Mälkki. He performs solo recitals and chamber programs at the Shanghai Arts Festival and the newly founded SOTA festival in Hyderabad. Having prepared for the task for several years, he takes on tour the formidable cycle by Bach, the Art of the Fugue. He also returns to Basel, the city of his studies in Switzerland, with a performance of a program dedicated to the memories of the two giants of the French avant-garde, Claude Debussy and Pierre Boulez. This performance takes place in the intriguing arts salon, Maison44. The highlights of the spring season include a tour with the violinist Elina Vähälä and an appearance with the Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Christopher Seaman. In the United States, Mr. Jumppanen performs recitals at the Phillips Collection in Washington DC, at the Bucknell University in Pennsylvania, and at the Gardner Museum in Boston.

In June 2017, Mr. Jumppanen curated the Väyläfestival – a new nine-day arts festival containing a variety of music, performance, photography, and lectures. The vision behind the event was to found a rostrum for the creative forces of the rural areas of northern Europe and promote artistic collaboration among different genres. The festival took place in locations along the shores of the Tornio and Muonio Rivers in northern Scandinavia, crossing the national border between Sweden and Finland. The second edition in June 2018 presented folk groups, Sami music, avant-garde jazz, visual arts, and classical music. Since 2015 Mr. Jumppanen has also held the position of Artistic Director for PianoEspoo Festival, the widely-known international piano festival in his native Finland.

Building an impressively expanding discography, Mr. Jumppanen recently completed a multi-year project of recording the complete cycle of Beethoven Piano Sonatas with Ondine Records— the fifth and final CD having been released in 2016. His recording with violinist Corey Cerovsek of the complete Beethoven Sonatas for Piano & Violin for Claves Records received the Midem Prize of Cannes as the best chamber music disc of 2008. His debut recording was the three Piano Sonatas of Pierre Boulez recorded for Deutsche Grammophon in 2005 upon the composer’s request. The Guardian praised the recording as “the best recorded disc of Boulez’s piano music so far. Mr. Jumppanen’s most recent recording, the complete Préludes by Debussy, was released to critical acclaim in January 2018. The recording has earned much praise in the international press, the Diapason in France giving it full five stars and issuing a warmhearted “warning for Jumppanen’s colleagues due the height on which he set the bar in the beginning of the Debussy anniversary”.

During the 2017–18 season Mr. Jumppanen performed a solo recital at the prestigious Frick Collection in New York, for which Mr. Jumppanen chose the unusual program of selections from William Duckworth’s remarkable Time Curve Preludes, generally considered to be the first “post-Minimalist” composition, as well as the complete Études of Debussy (Books I and II) and Beethoven’s Sonata No. 23 in F minor, “Appassionata.” The American composer William Duckworth, who died in 2012, was a collaborator of Mr. Jumppanen and personally coached him as well. In 2017 he performed a three-concert cycle of music by Debussy, Boulez, and Bartók presented in the memory of the late Pierre Boulez at Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. That year he also toured in Australia and premiered a concert-length triptych for piano and electronics composed for him by Perttu Haapanen at the Musica Nova Helsinki festival.

Other particularly memorable performances from recent years include all five Piano Concertos by Beethoven with the Lahti Symphony Orchestra and the world premiere of the Piano Concerto by Seppo Pohjola with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra in Helsinki and the Nordic premiere of the Dynamic Triptych by John Foulds with the Lahti Symphony Orchestra. In 2016 Mr. Jumppanen led a project focusing on works by Debussy, Crumb, and Beethoven at the Australian National Academy in Melbourne.

A frequent performer at venues such as the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, Mr. Jumppanen has also appeared with the Melbourne Symphony, Oslo Philharmonic, and the BBC Symphony Orchestra as well as numerous festivals including Finland’s Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival and the La Roque d’Anthéron Festival in France. Mr. Jumppanen has been a regular soloist with Finland’s leading orchestras since early in his career, often appearing with the Helsinki Philharmonic, Finnish Radio, and Lahti symphony orchestras. A frequent performer at France’s Festival Messiaen, Mr. Jumppanen has given a number of performances of Olivier Messiaen’s virtuosic concert-length solo piano cycle, Vingt Regards Sur l’Enfant Jesus. His 2010 performance of the complete cycle at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum was selected as one of the top ten performances of the year by The Boston Globe, which termed the event “a rare wedding of intellectual penetration, coloristic imagination, and sheer virtuoso firepower.”

Paavali Jumppanen was born in Espoo. In 1979, at the age of five, he began piano lessons at the Music Institute. He entered the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki in 1992. From 1997 to 2000, he studied with Krystian Zimerman at the Basel Music Academy in Switzerland where he also studied the organ, fortepiano, and clavichord. He has also been mentored by Russian-born pianist Konstantin Bogino throughout his career. In 1994 he won the first prize in Helsinki’s Maj Lind Competition, and in 2000 he was awarded first prize in the Young Concert Artists’ International Auditions in New York. From 2011 to 2012 Mr. Jumppanen had a residency with the Harvard University Music Department, where he was able to realize his longtime aspiration of studying musicology and music theory while deepening his understanding of Viennese 18th century music. Mr. Jumppanen writes a popular blog called Paavali’s Studio. In 2017 the Wall Street Journal published an article by Paavali Jumppanen, telling the fascinating story of the “Appassionata” by Beethoven, Mr. Jumppanen’s favourite piece of music.

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