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Rautavaara: The Journey / Vanska, Kuusisto, Lahti Symphony

Release Date: 11/30/2004 
Label:  Bis   Catalog #: 1315   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Einojuhani Rautavaara
Performer:  Jaakko Kuusisto
Conductor:  Osmo Vänskä
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lahti Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 57 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

For most of 2004, it looked as though this symphony would be Rautavaara's last. After suffering a major heart attack, he is slowly recovering and composing again, and we can only hope for many more years of healthy productivity from him. I attended the New York premiere of the Eighth Symphony with Sawallisch and the Philadelphia Orchestra, and at the time I was less than impressed, particularly with the slow movement (which seemed too short) and with what I thought was a certain sameness to the four movements that produced a monotonous feeling despite the work's brevity. These reservations vanished with the release of Ondine's recording under Segerstam, in which that conductor successfully
Read more differentiates the work's various moods and makes sense of its pithy structure.

This new recording only confirms these impressions. If anything, Osmo Vänskä is even more eruptive and dramatic than Segerstam, particularly in the two central movements. While the Lahti Symphony strings, smaller in number, can't match their Helsinki counterparts in terms of sheer richness, the work gains in transparency as well as muscle, though to my mind Segerstam's swifter finale still works best of all. In any case, it is a question of tiny differences between interpretations that by any measure are outstanding, and what a wonderful thing it is to be able to judge fine new works in differing versions so soon after their initial performances! It reminds us that the classical music tradition is very much alive, challenging listeners to participate in the process by which the new classics will be chosen for future generations.

Jaakko Kuusisto's solo work in the lovely Violin Concerto, surely one of the great 20th century works in this genre, easily matches that of dedicatee Elmar Oliveira on Ondine, and here the differences in the orchestra are less relevant owing to the latter's primarily accompanimental role. Oliveira & Co. are very slightly swifter overall, but the differences between the two versions are quite small, and again it's almost impossible to choose between them. The couplings may determine it for some: Ondine has the gorgeous tone poem Isle of Bliss, and the bitingly dramatic Angels and Visitations. In the final analysis, Rautavaara is such a good composer that having two versions of his major works seems quite natural. Superb sonics add the finishing touch to this excellent release. [10/26/2004]
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

Concerto for Violin by Einojuhani Rautavaara
Performer:  Jaakko Kuusisto (Violin)
Conductor:  Osmo Vänskä
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lahti Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1977; Finland 
Length: 26 Minutes 49 Secs. 
Symphony no 8 "The Journey" by Einojuhani Rautavaara
Conductor:  Osmo Vänskä
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lahti Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1999; Finland 
Length: 28 Minutes 31 Secs. 

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