Your recording of my "Quest" is incredibly beautiful! Bravissimo on your elegant playing and please do relay my congratulations to all the other players too!
It is always wonderful to hear one's work performed with both technical excellence and deep poetic insight. I wish you all best success in your further artistic career!
- George Crumb, composer
I was very taken, not only with the technical performance but especially with the introspection, such as one seldom hears, of his interpretation. He very fittingly captured the intimate moods I tried to express in composing the music.
- Pehr Henrik Nordgren, composer
…a very fine performance; technically impressive, very musical, and with a fine understanding of the work.
- Nicholas Maw, composer
"Korpijaakko is clearly at home with the musical possibilities of the guitar with the solo guitar sonata Kimberley (2006), a standout as one of the most remarkable works of recent years for solo guitar composed in Finland. As always, Kumela manages to astonish with the ease and clarity of his playing."
- Finnish Music Quarterly
"Kumela’s performance is inventive, elegant, and exciting…shows an impressive grasp of the work’s architecture. He never loses control—even in the most dissonant sections, he never loses his beautiful sound. This recording is a wild ride - a huge range of music in outstanding performances."
- American Record Guide - Critic´s choices 2011
Still, the best guarantee for the success of the record is that Petri Kumela is presently the best guitarist in Finland making records– at least in my opinion. The ease and lightness of his technique and the softness of his sound give unity for the record, but equally astounding is the versatility of his interpretations. Locatelli-variations by Hagen and Dowland´s Farewell show stylish lute-imitation with appropriate ornaments, where as the Fantasy by Sor is handled with salon elegance. Kumela builds carefully the enormous post-romantic outbursts of the epic Music of Memory by Nicholas Maw, and the piece succeeds in questioning our relation to the music of the past.
The best part of the record is Chaconne, which Kumela paints with a brush large enough, treading over the guitaristically difficult sections with cool ease. Kumela´s velvety tone is best displayed in the quiet, introverted sounds of Chaconne, deeply wrenching the heart.
The unabashed strumming-piece Balai by Lotta Wennäkoski swings unstoppably in Kumela´s hands. The variations come from the endless fine tuning of the touch – Kumela produces near genial sounds, which Wennäkoski may not have even imagined, but for which she has given the chance to happen.
- YLE (Finnish Broadcasting Company) New Recordings
PETRI KUMELA IS AN INNOVATOR OF THE GUITAR
In the cover of his new cd, Change is Gonna Come, Petri Kumela poses with a placat on his one-man street barricade. And why not? Kumela if anyone has participated in the growth and change of finnish guitar. Intelligent and many-sided musician, who has enrichened the repertoire with own arrangements as well as with many commissions from finnish composers.
Although this is not a traditional, sentimental guitar record, it also does convince with the tradional quality criteria, caressing nuances and an unbroken atmosphere. The record undergoing the theme of change and metamorfosis is thought and thoughtful. The variation works of Sor and Hagen have every tone in the right place. The famous Ciaccona by J. S. Bach has infinity experienced from up close. One of the most touching melodic inventions of Mendelssohn, the Intermezzo from the string quartet op.13, crosses the massive Music of Memory by Nicholas Maw, the piece growing in sound to the full. J. Dowland´s chromatically melancholic Farewell closes the record gently.
- Helsingin Sanomat
Petri Kumela was the poetic and masterly soloist in the concerto. From his guitar he conjured forth light lines of melody, tinkling arabesques, elegant chords and every now and then an impassioned rhythmic hum.
- Helsingin Sanomat
In the last few years Petri Kumela has established himself as one of our most interesting and versatile guitarists, who is as comfortable with the works of living composers - from whom he has commissioned a lot - as he is with f.ex. historical transcriptions. Kumela excels in this emotionally manyfaceted music with a sensibility, sincerity and finesse which is completely unarming and I already wait eagerly for the continuation of this, hopefully ongoing, project.
Guitarist Petri Kumela is a master at crystallising grand emotions in playing of little gestures. The guitar of the festival’s Artist of the Year could indeed produce temperamental sparks when necessary, but in particular he seemed to entice his listeners to join him in tracing enigmatically soft progressions. The smooth journey in time from the Baroque to contemporary music spoke of Kumela’s careful application to the matter. The modern pieces were not obligatory curiosities but an organic part of the good-music continuum.
Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach was the sovereign keyboard player of his day and composed very idiomatic keyboard music, but Kumela well succeeds in transferring the natural, unforced overall ambiance to the guitar. I particularly admire his ability to make the very non-guitarish ornaments glide along evenly. There is, furthermore, quite enough Sturm und Drang in the changes of dynamics and sudden harmonic twists. When you put the record on, your attention is immediately caught by the exceptionally velvety tone of the guitar.
- YLE (Finnish Broadcasting Company)/New releases
This disc does not support the persistent view that the music of Pehr Henrik Nordgren is gloomy. Guitarist Petri Kumela leads the listener to a world that is admittedly frail and uncertain but at the same time full of beauty and consolation… In all his works for guitar Nordgren has written a lively and even ornamental texture in which equilibrium prevails between the details and the overall line… Not without reason does the composer praise Petri Kumela’s playing as being profound and refined. The tone of every note is well thought out and the rests are absolutely spot on. The trust between the composer and the musician mentioned in the booklet is audible in the music. The consistent, spacious recording and equally eminent musicians tie up a package that is one of the greatest Finnish discs of contemporary music released this year.
GUITAR VIRTUOSO TRIUMPHANT IN KOUVOLA. I think I am not the only one who fell in love with the playing of guitarist Petri Kumela in the concert of the Kymi Sinfonietta. He played both a baroque guitar and a modern instrument thus giving an impressively multi-faceted picture of his artistic personality. His characteristically big sound filled the hall easily. Normally in guitar concertos amplification is used, but Kumela did not need any. His range of timbres was wide, from the intimate tones of the Fantasia by Rodrigo to the wildness of the (encore) Turina piece.
- Kouvolan Sanomat
Petri Kumela’s interpretation was intimately sensitive and with a rhytmically spanish feeling. His guitar was tranquilly meditative and also instrumentally agile. Kumela performed the brilliant runs with technical surety and ease.
- Kymen Sanomat
GUITAR MUSIC ALL THE RICHER
Working partnership between Pehr Henrik Nordgren and Petri Kumela
The partnership between composer Pehr Henrik Nordgren and guitarist Petri Kumela has proved a blessing. Kumela provided feedback in the course of composition and demonstrated the timbral potential of the guitar. The collaboration has led not to ‘novel’ techniques, to the dry tinkering that has plagued the history of modern music, but to the leisurely exploration of the guitar’s soul, of the basic timbres, in a way that leaves beautiful echoes… Guitar music has been enriched in a couple of years by no fewer than four delicate works. The distinctive nature of Nordgren’s music has not changed but become denser. It has filtered forth blissful layers of sound with which Nordgren has turned his tendency towards gloomy brooding into more open sounding-out… Nordgren’s melodies used sometimes to be marked by a restless expressiveness that destroys its own impact with its futile wanderings. Now the guitar’s interval leaps, micro-tones and arpeggios are airy. Nordgren seems to have found peace for his soul. Trusting peace also emanates from Petri Kumela’s playing. It is pure and rich in nuance. The disc tolerates – and maybe even demands – being listened to many, many times, so that a firm logic begins to emerge from the meditation.
- Helsingin Sanomat
Nordgrens sätt att skriva för gitarren känns väl aldrig helt idiomatiskt, men det behöver det inte heller göra. Uttrycket är personligt och Kumela tacklar sina utmaningar med en entusiasm och auktoritet som är absolut imponerande.
Nordgren är sällan direkt lättillgänglig, även om han inte heller krånglar till det för lyssnaren i onödan. Tonfallet är ofta säreget och i de bästa stunder får den laddade hudlösheten nästan något rituellt över sig. Ett drag som ytterligare förstärks av samtliga medverkande musikers ypperliga förverkliganden av hans intentioner.
Giovane chitarrista di talento, il ventottenne finlandese Petri Kumela si produce in un bel concerto che riserva momenti di particolare freschezza interpretativa… le premesse sono di assoluto riguardo e invitano a seguire con attenzione i prossimi passi di questo interprete. Si ascolti ad esempio l´incipit del preludio della Partita BWV 1006 di Bach con il suo nitore cristallino, la naturalezza del fraseggio portato con semplice signorilità, la leggerezza del´eloquio che pur si appoggia su solide basi analitiche. È un Bach religiosamente contemplativo nella Loure, agile e di preziosa stilizzazione in Gavotta e Bourrée, alato nella Gigue. Grazie a questa facilità per un´espressione sempre viva e finemente modulata si evita l´appariscenza e si instaura piuttosto una schietta comunicativa, basata su una spiccata e naturale musicalità.
- Seicorde (Italy)
Technically everything is brought off with great aplomb; just witness the Scherzo (Ginastera), which fairly whizzes along… He brings it off very succesfully whether you like your music effects-laden or not. After a dramatic and resonant Canto, the Finale proves what an able player Kumela is. It is very percussive, very controlled and excitingly performed.
- Classical Guitar Magazine (England)
…very much enjoyed his concert and admired his musicianship. Petri Kumela has a lot to offer an audience. He played without fuss and show but with an easy and warm sensibility, and a good sense of space and phrasing. …sufficient depth to communicate the qualities resident not only in the details but also within the architecture of the whole suite. Excellent. Engaging performance, from an engaging performer with good stage craft and presentation.
- Sound Hole (England)
It is interesting to listen to a disc describing a joint voyage of discovery by a composer and a player. Pehr Henrik Nordgren has turned his attention to the guitar and found in Petri Kumela a masterly interpreter of his works. The three-year process yielded four guitar works for different line-ups. This harvest has now been garnered on disc… The music is not easy, and certainly does not woo the listener. The characteristic Nordgren striving for forceful expression can nevertheless be sensed. Whoever dares to let himself will indeed find plenty of interest to chew on in this disc… The nimble-fingered Petri Kumela is at one with his guitar and Nordgren. Likewise the Chamber Orchestra of Lapland and the Tempera Quartet address themselves to their task with all due sensitivity.
Nordgren often creates captivating moods, and his feel for timbre and sense of colour are excellent… Guitarist Petri Kumela interprets Nordgren’s music with precision, sensitivity and insight.
- Suomen Kuvalehti
The evening’s Big Event was guitarist Petri Kumela, who premiered the concerto for guitar and chamber orchestra completed this year by Pehr Henrik Nordgren. Kumela’s playing was extremely musical and vibrant, with shifting fine-featured nuances. It did justice to the work, which gave the impression of being an interesting game, a conversation with a story between the soloist and the orchestra. The performance was also acoustically successful, since it was possible to follow the guitar without straining and without its once being drowned by the orchestra.
- Lapin Kansa
Kumela’s command of the concerto (Aranjuez) was sovereign and the guitar was resonant throughout, both in the snappy rhythms of the outer movements and in the singing melody of the slow movement.
…The guitarist audience was undoubtedly satisfied with the recital by Petri Kumela that began the festival. Kumela’s playing is technically fluent and his stylistic scale is wide.
- Helsingin Sanomat
…virtuosic cascades, flageolets, clusters and chordal progressions included (right to the closing breathless finale). This colourful kaleidoscope was an opportunity for the excellent guitarist Petri Kumela to demonstrate his superb capacity for polyphonic playing; he received a mighty ovation.
- Augsburger Allgemeine (Germany)
Petri Kumela represents the internationally most successful young generation of Finnish guitarists. A laureate of many competitions, he has constructed the repertoire for his debut disc with care; hence the result is both first-class guitar playing and an interesting cross-section of the potential of the constantly diversifying concert repertoire… The sonata (Ginastera) is a fitting end to a disc that has all the elements for artistic success: an unconditional desire and ability to interpret combined with an inspired intellect, delightful repertoire and, on top of all this, a touch of roughly-beating, heart-felt warmth.
The technical execution of the disc and Kumela’s playing are of a much higher standard than the commercial releases by many of the megacompanies. In addition to the elegant, confident Bach, Nordgren’s Perhoskuvat and the Ginastera sonata dazzle the listener with their nuanced interpretations free from all noise.
Kumela conjured an astonishing number of tones and timbres from his guitar.
It is rare to come across a debut concert that corresponds to its original image. The unknown young artist presents himself, his art and his maturity from his choice of repertoire onwards. A graduate with distinction from the Hochschule für Musik Nürnberg-Augsburg and the winner of scholarships, the respect of his field and numerous competition prizes, Petri Kumela had not, judging from the large audience, altogether succeeded in hiding his light under a foreign bushel. His reputation had sped ahead of him, as he deserved. Petri Kumela showed both serious and sensitive sides, but on another occasion his guitar would undoubtedly lend itself to other things. Noise and buzz are always easier to produce than what we now heard: the almost totally meditative savouring of the sounds extracted from the guitar strings with the finest of nuances. Watching his light fingers is as much of an aesthetic experience as listening to the sound they produce… Kumela gathered the broken strains of his enchanted garden with the greatest tenderness and sensitivity, transforming recollections into distant, at times brighter landscapes… In Nicholas Maw’s Music of Memory the theme from the intermezzo in Mendelssohn’s A minor string quartet is chopped up in many ways in the course of the work. Kumela floats the snatches of theme in among the runs with ease, and not a single trick seems like a trick; rather, the dominant impression of his playing is of the ease typical of great artists.
- Helsingin Sanomat
Gitarristen Petri Kumela hör till de få inhemska toppmusiker som inte i något skede har studerat vid Sibelius-Akademin. Kumela visade sig inte desto mindre vara en tolkningsmässigt mogen och tekniskt driven musiker, som visade lejonklon i en svit stiligt varierade nutida musikstycken... Kumela gav genomgående prov på ett emotionellt och utförandemässigt mästerskap som man inte nödvändigtvis är van med en debutkonsert och i extranumret gav han dessutom ett övertygande bevis på att även fader Bach sitter som gjuten i hans känsliga gitarrfingrar.
Julius Berger gave the Arpeggione part a haunting cello expressiveness that Petri Kumela took up on his guitar and sent on its way. … with joie de vivre and loaded with temperament. Rapt applause in the Rococo Hall.
- Augsburger Allgemeine (Germany)
The performance by guitarist Petri Kumela was pure, rich in nuances and enthusiastic – all in all a praiseworthy recital.
Musicerandet tog vid och följdes av en nästan andäktig tystnad in den till brädden fyllda salen. Musiken rörde en rakt till hjärtat.
- Hangö Tidningen
Colin Balzer’s mellifluous tenor and Petri Kumela’s pliant guitar accompaniment created a convincing, striking sound.
- Augsburger Allgemeine (Germany)
Petri Kumelas intima konsert i Riddarhuset bjöd på spännande kontraster mellan klassisk musik arrangerad för gitarr och ny finländsk musik skriven för gitarr... ...tolkningen (Bach) blev synnerligen njutbar med förfinade nyanser och inkännande karakterisering... Erkki Rautio föreföll trivas med sin stämma och samspelet med Petri Kumela var vitalt och befriat (Uruppförandet av Riikka Talvities Beyond the Web för gitarr och cello)... Kumelas gitarrspel är intimt, ytterst noggrant och tekniskt rent, t.ex. det gnissel man ofta hör från gitarristers grepphand vid lägesbyte undviker Kumela helt. Konserten avslutades med musik av Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, arrangerad av Kumela själv och framförd med stilkänsla och finess.
The Turina created an intimate Andalusian inner and dream world rich in nuance into which both guitarists felt their way, so to speak, with great wariness, sonorous awareness and rhythmic finesse. The Cinco Danzas Gitanas for two guitars, in subtle interplay between Kumela and [José Antonio] Escobar, was also carried off in a gypsy atmosphere devoid of any ostensible “Carmen” effects; instead they wove a delicate web full of mystery, fragrances and nocturnal voices. In doing so they made use of the potential of the broad spectrum of sounds obtainable on the guitar, and with great artistry – from hard, sharp arpeggios and drum-like beats to shimmering cascades of sounds and quivering, sighing tones. But whether the artists were playing together or solo, it was never a mere guitar show, for the interpreter was always totally immersed in this highly-poetic guitar-dream world.
- Augsburger Allgemeine (Germany)