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Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

 

 

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Einojuhani RAUTAVAARA (b.1928)
Cantus Arcticus Op. 61 (1972) [17.33]
Klemetti Institute SO/Pertti Pekkanen
Angel of Dusk (1980) [26.53]
Olli Kosonen (double bass)
Finnish RSO/Leif Segerstam
String Quartet No. 2 (1958) [27.12]
Cantos I-III (1960-1972) [21.33]
Tapiola Sinfonietta/Juhammi Lamminmäki
Epitaph for Béla Bartók (1955, 1986) [6.09]
Hommage à Zoltán Kodály (1982) [16.45]
Hommage à Ferenc Liszt (1989) [4.33]
Helsinki Strings/Csaba and Géza Szilvay
A Requiem in our Time (1953) [9.27]
Helsinki PO/Jorma Panula
Sonetto (1969) [6.28]
Kullervo Kojo (cl); Juhani Lagerspetz (piano)
rec. 1969-1994. ADD/DDD
Meet the Composer series
FINLANDIA 4509-999659-2 [2CDs: 72.08+66.25]



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Rautavaara can be quite forbidding at times. Over the years his compositional fealty has migrated from temple to temple and now moves with ease from one idiom to another in the same work. Cantus Arcticus represents the composer at his most welcoming. The work is in three movements in which the sound of a string orchestra with a small complement of woodwind is woven with taped birdcalls. The recordings were made by the composer amid the bogland of Liminka near Oulo. Rautavaara is a keen birdwatcher. The music has the closest links at times to Sibelius's open air loyalties. The movements are: The Bog; Melancholy and Swans Migrating. The ecstatic sense of streaming writing and of great flocks of birds flying over the listener's head is memorable.

The Double Bass Concerto is dedicated to Olga Koussevitsky. It is the centre panel of his Angel trilogy: flanked by Angels and Visitations (overture) and Symphony No. 5 originally titled Monologue with Angels. This is a more challenging work than Cantus with all sorts of avant-garde effects including wooden tapping and strange broken calls and shrieks wrung from the solo instrument. Even so both the outer movements have strongly, almost prayerlike, lyrical material. Olli Kosonen who played the solo in the premiere is the also the soloist here.

The Second Quartet is a product of the composer's long dalliance with dodecaphony. It was written while he was alone in Köln in 1958. It is in four movements musingly cradled, moonlit, wandering and impetuous. Schoenberg and Bartok bustle their ways through this music.

The first two of the Cantos are products of the composer's twelve tone period. The first is a string orchestra arrangement of the overture to the three act opera Kaivos (The Mine) written between 1957 and 1963. The work was inspired by the Hungarian uprising in 1956. This is searing and probing music fusing Pettersson and Bartók. As the booklet writer notes Canto II is almost late-romantic in its dark glow - Mahlerian at times. 'Canto' is a title borrowed from Ezra Pound. There are seemingly no other links. There are two more Cantos but of these only the third in the sequence is here. It dates from the period when Rautavaara had put aside things dodecaphonic and embraced the romantic. Listen out for cross-references with Cantus Arcticus.

Then come the three composer tributes for string orchestra. The Bartók was initially for cello and piano (1955). It reflects on a smaller scale the Kodaly Hommage. Both are works by which to warm the cockles of the heart. The Bartók is warmer and more comforting than anything by Bartók himself. The Kodaly is of tougher fibre with aleatorics, romantic textures and high cyclical slaloming from the violins as in Hovhaness's Fra Angelico overture. The Liszt is closer to the Bartok Epitaph with rolling waves of baritonal string sound. That other searing voice of the 20th century, Shostakovich, is completely absent from Rautavaara's landscape.

 

A Requiem in our Time is for brass ensemble. It is in four strange and brief movements none longer that three minutes. Much of this music depends on contrasts of dynamic and virtuoso playing is required to achieve speed and pianissimo layering. This is from Rautavaara's neo-classical period. The Requiem won the Thor Johnson prize in Cincinnati in 1954.

The notes tell us that the Sonetto was written for Martin Fagerlund in 1969 and that the work inhabits the composer's Neo-Romantic period. In fact there is a plainly unapologetic devotion to Bergian principles. Its romance must be buried deep.

Finlandia have not laid claims to this series providing a representative sampling. This instead is Finlandia's Rautavaara archive ransacked to create a generous selection. The Cantus, Bartók Epitaph, Canto II and Liszt Hommage are the highlights.

Rob Barnett



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