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Rautavaara: Vigilia / Schweckendiek, Helsinki Chamber Choir


Release Date: 09/06/2019 
Label:  Bis   Catalog #: 2422  
Composer:  Einojuhani Rautavaara
Performer:  Niall ChorellTuukka Haapaniemi
Conductor:  Nils Schweckendiek
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Helsinki Chamber Choir
Number of Discs: 1 
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Note: This clip is for reference purposes only, the performance seen and heard here differing from the recording of the same work on this disc.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Think of this as a Finnish equivalent of Rachmaninoff's Vespers. Anyone who loves that glorious pinnacle of just about any choral tradition, anywhere, or at any time in history owes it to themselves to hear this.

In 1971, Einojuhani Rautavaara was asked to compose a Finnish Orthodox church service, an all-night vigil similar to that of Rachmaninov, comprising Vespers as well as Matins. Soon after the first performance he reshaped the music into what we now know as Vigilia, a concert version forming a musical whole. As his inspiration, Rautavaara has himself described a visit to the Valamo monastery in the middle of Lake Ladoga in 1939: ‘The bells began to ring, low-pitched booms and higher, shrill clinks: the world was
Read more filled with sounds and colors…’ The music is marked by dark colors, the heady smell of incense and the crepuscular church lit only by small candles. Divided into two parts, Vespers and Matins, the 70-minute work consists of 34 sections, and features prominent parts for a bass and a tenor soloist, as well as a number of solo voices emerging from the mixed choir. The work is enriched by the constantly changing combinations of choir and soloists, the perspective shifting from the personal to the universal. It is here performed by the 21-strong Helsinki Chamber Choir, under its artistic director Nils Schweckendiek – a team that has made several recordings for BIS in recent years. These include Riemuitkaamme!, a Christmas album (‘Schweckendiek’s immaculately blended singers make a glorious noise’, The Arts Desk), as well as a two-album survey of the choral works of Finnish modernist Erik Bergman (‘The Helsinki choir produces a radiant sound throughout’, Choir & Organ).

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REVIEW:

Think of this as a Finnish equivalent of Rachmaninoff's Vespers. Anyone who loves that glorious pinnacle of just about any choral tradition, anywhere, or at any time in history owes it to themselves to hear this.

Vigilia must rank among the finest achievements of the 20th century; in a tonal idiom haloed by subtle dissonance, that draws on traditional chant and church modes, matching the mystical archaic texts with timeless music, dense choral textures alternating with unison or solo lines, Rautavaara flawlessly evokes lofty, dim candle-lit church interiors, the solemn liturgy and the sacred mysteries of faith.

– Records International Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Vigilia by Einojuhani Rautavaara
Performer:  Niall Chorell (Tenor), Tuukka Haapaniemi (Bass)
Conductor:  Nils Schweckendiek
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Helsinki Chamber Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1971-1972; Finland 

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