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Rautavaara: Angels & Visitations


Release Date: 09/19/2006 
Label:  Ondine   Catalog #: 1079   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Einojuhani Rautavaara
Performer:  Vladimir AshkenazyRalf GothóniRichard StoltzmanPatrick Gallois
Conductor:  Leif SegerstamVladimir AshkenazyTimo NuoranneMikko Franck,   ... 
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Helsinki Philharmonic OrchestraFinnish Radio Chamber ChoirSwedish Radio Symphony Orchestra,   ... 
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews



RAUTAVAARA Cantus arcticus. 1 Autumn Gardens. 2 Piano Concerto No. 1: Molto vivace. 3 Clarinet Concerto: Adagio assai. 4 Symphony No. 7, “Angel of Light”: Come un sogno. 5 Vigilia. 6 Read more class="ARIAL12bi"> Apotheosis. 7 Adagio celeste. 8 Flute Concerto: Allegro. 9 True and False Unicorn. 10 Anadyomene. 11 Piano Concerto No. 3: Energico. 12 Symphony No. 1: Poetico. 13 In the shade of the willow. 14 Angels and Visitations 15 Leif Segerstam, cond; 1,4,5,9,11,15 Ralf Gothóni (pn); 3 Vladimir Ashkenazy (pn), 3,12 cond; 2,3,5,12 Richard Stoltzman (cl); 4 Patrick Gallois (fl); 9 Max Pommer, cond; 3 Timo Nuoranne, cond; 6,10,14 Mikko Franck, cond; 7,8,13 Helsinki PO; 1,2,3,4,5,9,11,12,15 Finnish R Ch; Finnish RCCh; 6,10,14 Leipzig RSO; 3 Swedish RSO; 7 Belgium Natl O; 8,13 Finnish RSO 10 ONDINE 1079 (2 CDs: 137:49)


The magical world of Einojuhani Rautavaara is one that evokes other realms. Angels figure particularly heavily, especially those angels that deal with death and destruction. As Rautavaara himself says, “My angels are not those like in the altarpieces of Raphael . . . my angels are powerful, masculine, and fierce.”


As well as with angels, many mystics have been preoccupied with the language of the birds (Messiaen in music, but think also of Saint Francis of Assisi preaching to the birds). One of the most popular Finnish works of recent years has been the Cantus arcticus , for prerecorded bird sounds and orchestra. It is a hugely impressive three-movement soundscape marked by a timeless feel and by beautiful, glowing lines. The taped birds could easily have sounded like a cheap effect, so it is telling that they emerge as an integral part of the work’s emotional vocabulary. Segerstam’s performance is excellent, as one would expect from this fine musician.


The very title Autumn Gardens seems to invite comparison with Takemitsu—all we need is a descending flock of the birds from the Cantus arcticus . It is certainly easy on the ear, so much so that the acerbic, percussive dissonances of the third movement of the First Piano Concerto come as something of a relief. Gothóni is an excellent pianist here; his way with some rhythms makes me suggest he has links to jazz. Back to pure atmosphere for the Clarinet Concerto, though—truly excellently played by Stoltzmann. By the time I got to “Angel of Light,” I am afraid my listening notes pointed towards the fact I was feeling sleepy.


A shame there are no texts or translations for the Vigilia (there was space in the booklet—but the last six pages are taken up by scans of covers of other Rautavaara CDs), for this is beautifully performed choral music.


The second disc begins with an Adagio celeste for string orchestra. The strings of the Belgian National Orchestra play really sumptuously in this gently pulsating score; the much more abrasive Flute Concerto excerpt that follows (complete with agile low bassoon and menacing percussion) acts as a necessary corrective, although it is not long before it, too, shows its delicate side.


True and False Unicorn is a reminder of Rautavaara’s stature as a composer of choral works. The second movement, “Young Sagittarius,” is full of delightfully light rhythmic play, as is In the shade of the willow. Anadyomene , subtitled “Adoration of Aphrodite,” evokes more of a sense of the massive, using expansive, coloristic writing and including moments of real light.


The final work, Angels and Visitations , has a deliberately ambiguous title. “Visitations” may indeed refer to the Annunciation, but it may equally invoke something more sinister. Climaxes, therefore, tend towards the darkly hued. There are shades of Sibelius during the course of the piece, but Rautavaara transforms the material so that it glows in a most un-Sibelian way. This tense score (with its Pétrouchka -like mêlée of sounds) is one of the most impressive on either disc here, and is an apt way to close.


It is good that there are complete pieces on this set, as this fact alone raises it—just—above the status of sampler. Although other companies are championing the Rautavaara cause, most notably Naxos, Ondine has a certain authority. Both sides of Rautavaara’s personality—the meltingly beautiful and the near violent—are given a chance to make their mark here. Not all of the works are discussed in the booklet notes.


FANFARE: Colin Clarke
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Works on This Recording

1.
Cantus Arcticus, Op. 61 "Concerto for Birds and Orchestra" by Einojuhani Rautavaara
Conductor:  Leif Segerstam
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1972; Finland 
2.
Autumn Gardens by Einojuhani Rautavaara
Conductor:  Vladimir Ashkenazy
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1999; Finland 
3.
Symphony no 7 "Angel of Light": Come un sogno by Einojuhani Rautavaara
Conductor:  Leif Segerstam
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1994; Finland 
4.
Vigilia by Einojuhani Rautavaara
Conductor:  Timo Nuoranne
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Finnish Radio Chamber Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Finland 
Notes: Composition written: Finland (1971 - 1972).
Composition revised: Finland (1996). 
5.
Apotheosis by Einojuhani Rautavaara
Conductor:  Mikko Franck
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1996; Finland 
Notes: Composition written: Finland (1992).
Composition revised: Finland (1996). 
6.
Adagio Celeste by Einojuhani Rautavaara
Conductor:  Mikko Franck
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Belgian National Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Finland 
Notes: Composition written: Finland (1997).
Composition revised: Finland (2000). 
7.
True and False Unicorn by Einojuhani Rautavaara
Conductor:  Timo Nuoranne
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Finnish Radio Chamber Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1971; Finland 
8.
Anadyomene by Einojuhani Rautavaara
Conductor:  Leif Segerstam
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1968; Finland 
9.
Concerto for Piano no 3 "Gift of Dreams" by Einojuhani Rautavaara
Performer:  Vladimir Ashkenazy (Piano)
Conductor:  Vladimir Ashkenazy
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1998; Finland 
10.
In the Shade of the Willow by Einojuhani Rautavaara
Conductor:  Timo Nuoranne
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Finnish Radio Chamber Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1998; Finland 
11.
Angels and Visitations by Einojuhani Rautavaara
Conductor:  Leif Segerstam
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1978; Finland 
12.
Concerto for Piano no 1, Op. 45: 3rd movement, Molto vivace by Einojuhani Rautavaara
Performer:  Ralf Gothóni (Piano)
Conductor:  Max Pommer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1969; Finland 
13.
Concerto for Clarinet: 2nd movement, Adagio assai by Einojuhani Rautavaara
Performer:  Richard Stoltzman (Clarinet)
Conductor:  Leif Segerstam
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2001; Finland 
14.
Concerto for Flute, Op. 69 "Dances with the Winds": 3rd movement, Allegro by Einojuhani Rautavaara
Performer:  Patrick Gallois (Flute)
Conductor:  Leif Segerstam
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1973 
15.
Symphony no 1: 2nd movement, "Poetico" by Einojuhani Rautavaara
Conductor:  Mikko Franck
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Belgian National Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Finland 
Notes: Composition written: Finland (1956).
Composition revised: Finland (1988).
Composition revised: Finland (2003). 

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