Creative friction between composer and interpreter is all well and good, and certainly more interesting than slavish adherence to the text. But I feel that flights of fancy of the kind the young Finn is fabulously equipped to offer work best from a more humane basis. Remove that and you create mere freakishness. For some, Mustonen’s world-class clarity and agility may override such objections, and others may be able to detect a Gouldian alternative agenda I’ve completely missed. For myself I felt I could have been listening to a fine pianist who for some reason despised the Diabelli Variations and wanted to send them up. Of the many fine available versions, Kovacevich’s continues to give me the greatest satisfaction.
The five C major and minor short pieces work quite well as an appendix, though with a possible 33 minutes to fill, it might have been even more fun simply to make a clean sweep of Beethoven’s C major piano miscellanea. Recording quality is superb. (Gramophone)