Jumppanen presents a widely varied Mozart

Paavali Jumppanen closed out the Gardner’s four-concert cycle of Mozart sonatas on Sunday. Paavali Jumppanen closed out the Gardner’s four-concert cycle of Mozart sonatas on Sunday. (File)
By Matthew Guerrieri
Globe Correspondent / March 15, 2011

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A conscientious artisan, judicious and detail-oriented, but with an inner regard for expansive thoughts and vistas — not to mention a mischievous comic streak. That was the portrait of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart drawn by the pianist Paavali Jumppanen at MassArt’s Pozen Center on Sunday, the last of a four-concert cycle of Mozart’s sonatas presented by the Gardner Museum. The description could have easily applied to Jumppanen himself.

In some way, all five of the sonatas Jumppanen played unfolded according to that template. The F Major K. 533/494 Sonata, for example: the opening Allegro rendered with sober clarity, emphasizing Mozart’s contrapuntal skill and formal balance; the Andante leavened with warmer tone and more evident rhythmic flex, tracing the music’s slow-unfolding arc; then an irrepressible Rondo, the tempo pushing forward even as more and more dense passagework crowds the canvas like cheerful graffiti, a pianistic plate-spinning act.

Sonically, Jumppanen cast the music in Apollonian tones: bright, crystalline, clean. Handfuls of fast notes streamed forth with admirable evenness, while phrases tapered off with superb timing, a discreet rounding-off of sentences. Each sonata spun a variation on the afternoon’s theme. The B-flat Major Sonata, K. 333, injected more flair into its opening movement, but was still episodically focused on Mozart’s moment-to-moment expertise — in this case, as much theatrical as technical. The slow movement of K. 333 opened out into long-breathed paragraphs, while its comic-opera Allegretto grazioso finale again spun out sophisticated clowning. (Jumppanen’s fast-paced finales now and again skittered across the keys, his daring outpacing his fingers.)

The K. 331 A Major Sonata bumped up the contrast in its first two movements, perhaps to prime the ear for the forthright Janissary accents of its familiar Rondo “Alla Turca.’’ In the C Major Sonata, K. 545 — beloved (or bane) of beginning piano students everywhere — Jumppanen packed the opening with coursing energy, then gave the Andante a restrained, implacable lyricism, before a light, bright Rondo finish.

By the final Sonata, the K. 576 D Major, the pattern was so established that one dwelled on Jumppanen’s tweaks as much as his design: the Allegro’s details given a shade more contemplation, the Adagio’s scaffolding a little more deeply varnished, the Allegretto’s ending pocketed and relaxed rather than triumphant. That was the point: Mozart not as a driven innovator, but as an encyclopedic guide to the varieties of classical experience.

Matthew Guerrieri can be reached at

PAAVALI JUMPPANEN, piano Presented by the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

At: Pozen Center, Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Sunday