Reviews

Feedback for the record Of Giants and Goblins 

”Dear Teemu,

Thank you for all of this. Your project appears to be an exciting one, and I have also listened to your recording. It is truly excellent, you are a very fine and talented pianist. Your rendering of the lyric pieces is really first class, catching the spirit, poetry and brilliance of the music so well!”

Audun Kayser, piano artist and professor at the Grieg Academy (retired), the best-selling Norwegian classical music artist (his recording of Grieg’s piano concerto sold over 100,000 copies in Norway), has played Grieg’s entire piano catalogue 

The pianist Teemu Laasanen presents lyrical pieces by Edvard Grieg on his new record Of Giants and Goblins. Laasanen’s playing has a natural and refined touch throughout the recording. He seems to be at his best when interpreting tender and serene “Nordic” moods that are touching in their simplicity. He does not fall into sappy interpretations but seems to rather accentuate the sincere and peaceful aspects of music through a wisdom of life. Strength, speed and even majestic sounds are also readily available when needed. The selection of pieces on the record form compositions which are pleasant to listen to. The well-executed recording (Matti Heinonen / Pro Audile) supports well the positive overall impression. The highlight of the record for me is For dine føtter (At Your Feet) op 68 no 3, with an interpretation that is among the best I have ever heard. I can highly recommend this record to anyone who wishes to hear a great crosscutting of Grieg’s piano miniatures in a concise package.      

Niklas Pokki, D.Mus. Director, Department of Piano, Sibelius Academy, HelsinkiFounder, YPA Youth Piano Academy Artistic director, Mänttä Music Festival 

“Such a lovely recording! I was completely convinced right from the start of the first song. What a sound! You brilliantly follow the tracks of Russian soundscapes, if I may say so. At least for me, your sound speaks a language I recognise, which touches me and reminds me of the Russian masters. Many of your interpretations bring tears to my eyes and your fast pieces hold a vividness and clarity. Grieg is one of my most beloved composers and I feel you transmit so finely his honesty, sensitivity and depth, as well as a joyousness. Will you perform these somewhere in concert?” 

Katariina Liimatainen, piano artist and head teacher of piano, Kuopio Conservatory 

“Wow Teemu, absolutely splendid playing! I know the songs, and this Grieg record would fit well the record shelf of every Finnish music academy as an example on how to play Grieg! 

The best moments on the album are, first of all, Evening in the Mountains and Notturno with their brilliant command of phrases and sounds. Bell Ringing is full of beautiful tonalities, and the long tones meet each other finely in accordance with the harmony. I find Vanished Days the best performance on the record. It is beautiful, it touches deep inside, it is almost perfect and sounds like Scribiani. 

Very few piano teachers are able to play on a concert pianist level themselves and keep their fingering up to par. You are a truly, truly magnificent pianist. Congratulations on a highly professional record!” 

Tapio Tolppanen, pianist 

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“Absolutely spellbinding interpretations of Grieg. I have listened to them many times. Your interpretations of those pieces might reach faraway arenas. I hope so from the bottom of my heart. A fine act! I fell in love with Grieg myself at a time, and played him a lot. But I have never reached the level on which you play his music. Thank you for having the perseverance to believe.” 

Antti Äärimaa, trained singer and pianist 

Feedback on Nuken tarina (Doll’s Tale)

“The fairytale narrated by Risto Kopperi and the music played by Laasanen himself intertwine seamlessly, allowing more space for the music than a mere background element. The rhythm of narration and music also works finely. At times, the words and the notes cascade simultaneously, at other times the listener can focus peacefully on a single element.

The elements of Slavic tradition in both the illustrations and the storyline are charming. The audio part has a specific charm in its natural flow of music and the vividness of the narration.” 

Marjo Jääskä, Rondo Classic 10/2017 

“The coming together of Nuken tarina (Doll’s Tale) is already a story worth sharing in all its atypicality. The fairytale book is inspired by Tchaikovsky’s piano work Children’s Album. Better said, inspiration is an understatement as the whole plot of the fairytale is built around the 24 short pieces featured on Tchaikovsky’s Children’s Album. The book is accompanied by an audiobook where the story has been narrated with Tchaikovsky’s music as the soundtrack. 

The ambitious book project is spearheaded by the piano lecturer Teemu Laasanen, who has both written the story and performed the piano music on the CD. As can be expected from Tchaikovsky’s music, this story is also set in Russian landscapes. 

The upper class children Dimitri and Anna receive a seemingly simple mission from their mother to meet Igor, a hermit living in the woods who wishes. But why? And who is this Igor, and will he be the one who finds the missing dance troupe for the evening ball? The surprising story includes elements from both The Nutcracker and Russian mythology. 

The story has been illustrated by Marija Dergaeva, graphic designer of games. She can surely whip up an amazing spirit through her images. The sceneries and colour palettes created by Dergaeva have a lot of atmosphere and the computer-generated chalk-like stroke stands out finely. One hopes that Dergaeva finds more time to pursue illustration work also in the future. 

The quirk of the book is its accompanying CD where the actor Risto Kopperi narrates the story with great expressiveness to the rhythm of Tchaikovsky’s piano works. I have never been all that fond of audio books, but this time I highly recommend listening to the record even just for its music. The overall length is 43 minutes, which might put the concentration skills of the youngest listeners to a test. 

It is a rare treat to find a high-quality self-publication and Nuken tarina (Doll’s Tale) also includes certain moments of hesitation typical to first-time publishers. However with such an original and passionate work, I can warmly recommend this project to especially music lovers.” 

Kirjavinkit.fi Writer: Titta Lindström Published: 5.7.2018