£16 post free World-wide

 


555 sonatas 9Cds mp3 files
Only £22


 


Benjamin: Written on Skin £16

Search
What's New
Previous CDs
Concerts
Jazz
Nostalgia
Composers
Resources
Announce
Labels index


Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    



Some items
to consider


Shostakovich 14 Petrenko


Rachmaninov #3
Prokofiev #2

 


Dunedin Consort

Peter Grimes

Hymn of Jesus: Sea Drift

Complete Mozart Edition
Mozart complete edition

Vaughan Williams Symphonies 5 & 8 £11

Weiner, Klepper, Bloch, Schulhoff £12 post free


Available again


 
REVIEW
BARGAIN OF THE MONTH



Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Hyperion

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Alto
Arcodiva
CDAccord
Centaur
Hallé
Hortus
Lyrita
Nimbus
Northern Flowers
Redcliffe
Sheva
Talent
Toccata Classics


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly newsletter
 

alternatively
CD: AmazonUK AmazonUS
Download: Classicsonline


Einojuhani RAUTAVAARA (b.1928)
Twelve Concertos
CD 1
Concerto for Violin and Orchestra (1977) [24:11]
Concerto for Cello and Orchestra (1968) [17:33]
Concerto for Double Bass and Orchestra Angel of Dusk (1980) [26:19]
CD 2
Ballad for Harp and Strings (1973/1981) [10:05]
Concerto for Harp and Orchestra (2000) [23:11]
Concerto for Birds and Orchestra Cantus Arcticus (1972) [19:23]
CD 3
Concerto for Flute and Orchestra Dances with the Winds (1975) [22:54]
Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra (2001) [25:54]
Concerto for Organ, Brass Quintet and Symphonic Wind Orchestra Annunciations (1977) [27:33]
CD 4
Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 1 (1969) [20:11]
Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 2 (1989) [22:08]
Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 3 Gift of Dreams (1998) [27:57]
see end of review for performer details
rec. 1991-2005. DDD
ONDINE ODE 1156-2Q [4 CDs: 68:21 + 52:59 + 76:30 + 70:37]

Experience Classicsonline


Over the years Rautavaara has spoken to audiences in a variety of styles. Some of his works are strongly avant-garde; others are more lyrically accessible. Whichever style you encounter he always orchestrates with stark yet poetic clarity.

The Violin Concerto is getting on for three decades old. In two movements, the first of these is extremely lyrical with the violin often dizzyingly high in its range. It operates quietly - a picture in sound of an ice cavern: crystalline, glistening; The Lark Ascending meditating on the Berg concerto or the Szymanowskis. The second movement is more explosive. In both movements the composer keeps in touch with the Finnish countryside and especially in the first there are links with the nature painting of his remarkable Cantus Arcticus. Oliveira digs deeply into his role. I am pleased that we have the even, yet intensely succulent and poignant tone of Oliveira to present this work to the world. The work was written in New York with technical assistance from Eugene Sarbu.

The compact Cello Concerto saws away deep in the auburn territory between baritone and bass - heavy with premonition and a chant-like soul. It marks in undiluted lyrical terms a turning away from dodecaphony. Textures are left bare yet never Spartan. Some of the writing is reminiscent of Barber (sultry) and Schuman (springy, powered and athletic) yet more melodic than either of them - the mark of his New York years perhaps.

Olli Kosonen worked with Rautavaara on Angel of Dusk - the Concerto for Double Bass and recorded it for Finlandia. The lustrous canvas gleams in the hands of Esko Laine and the Tapiola Sinfonietta. This is at one level yet the music surges with tidal power at lower levels. The last two movements hum with dark chaotic tension and cello acts as a tireless cantor redolent of the relationship between solo and orchestra in Rubbra’s Soliloquy (Cello Classics and Lyrita). Especially in the finale one is occasionally reminded in the string writing of 1960s Penderecki but the dominance here is lyrical. The recording used here has been licensed from Bis (BIS-CD-910) - credit to the two companies for such open-minded collaboration in the interests of Ondine’s enlightened endeavour on behalf of Rautavaara. Angel of Dusk is part of the composer’s Angels series: Angels and Visitations, Playgrounds for Angels and Angel of Light.  

We next hear two works for harp and orchestra. The overture-length Ballad is both Baltic-poetic and wildly emotional. It shudders with fracture lines. The music reminds me of a sort of avant-garde extension of Sibelius’s The Bard - more emotionally candid. The Harp Concerto is in three movements. The solo - here played by Marielle Nordmann - is bolstered by two ‘assisting’ harps which enable the harp voicings to be heard above the otherwise overpowering phalanx of orchestral sound. The music is at the surface redolent of Ravel’s Introduction and Allegro and Debussy’s Danses Sacrée et Danses Profanes. There’s a superb fullness of heart and generous eloquence of romantic expression about the slightly Vaughan Williamsy central movement and the gloriously romantic-filmic finale. CD 2 ends with the work through which I discovered Rautavaara: Cantus Arcticus. I can be precise. It was 15 June 1982 when the BBC broadcast a performance in which Ian Reid conducted the University of London Orchestra in the work’s first UK broadcast. The work was written in Oulu in 1972 and uses the lonely-sounding birdsong recordings the composer had made in northern Finland as the solo voices. The noble grand theme carried by the baritonal strings at 3:20 onwards in the first movement never fails to make an impact; neither does its counterpart in the finale: man and nature - eternity and transience. I do not prefer this recording to the atmospheric tape I have of the 1982 broadcast or the Finlandia version by the Klemetti Institute Symphony Orchestra with Pertti Pekkanen. The others allow a more elusive atmosphere to pervade but cannot compare in audio-technical terms. The admirable Ondine team have produced a recording of great forward immediacy and directness not always apt to this wonderful and emotionally overpowering work. It superbly brings off a marriage between real birdsong and the orchestra - something Messiaen steered clear of doing and is infinitely more subtle than say Respighi’s The Birds. It is a visual counterpart to the French film: Winged Migration.  

On CD 3 we first encounter the Flute Concerto. It’s not quite what it seems from the title. Each of the four movements deploys a different instrument: concert flute, piccolo, alto flute and bass flute. It’s a multi-faceted piece with suggestions along the way of a Baltic faun, a stomping Til Eulenspiegel figure, the grand emotional nobility of a typical Rautavaara string theme and a dash more 1970s modernism than usual. The Clarinet Concerto was written specifically for the player here, the American soloist Richard Stoltzmann. The characteristic nobility of Rautavaara’s slowly blossoming themes can be heard here. This is alongside Stoltzmann’s virtuosity and poignant emotionalism - try the central and very touching Adagio assai and the end of the first movement which reminded me of Nyman. The finale has more tragic violence abut it than usual. The work was written in close cooperation with Stoltzmann. The Annunciations Concerto is for organ, brass quintet and symphonic wind orchestra. Mysteries, Paeans and Furies inhabit its pages alongside other now well-recognised Rautavaara hallmarks: the flutter of avian voices and an innate nobility.

The final CD sensibly couples the three piano concertos: 1969, 1989 and 1998. The Piano Concerto No. 1 was written as a vehicle for the composer as pianist. He toured it around Finland. It’s clangour and clamour carries a noble light-filled theme clearly related to the grand string orchestra themes used in Cantus Arcticus. Much of the solo writing is epic and quarry-hewn colossal. The Piano Concerto No. 2 is a shade less angular but just as tidally propulsive, swirling, troubled-surreal and at times rhetorical - something of an emotional whirlpool of a piece. The Piano Concerto No. 3 Gift of Dreams was written with Ashkenazy’s wish that the work be written to allow him to conduct from the keyboard. The first movement is calmly hieratic - with the music operating like a spell for nobility- an invocation. The strings sing out in massed power before stony heroic affirmation from the piano which fades down into a shaded peace. This forms a seamless segue into the calming Adagio assai which is yet not without rhetoric and granitic dissonance from the piano soloist. Strange how the solo piano part made me think of John Ireland (Legend and Concerto) and Bax (Symphonic Variations and Winter Legends). The final Energico has the bubbling wind writing of Cantus Arcticus but is overall a thornier and more apocalyptically angular work than the title might have lead you to believe. That said, its final bell-swung pages leave a glow that will draw you back. 

The terse and to-the-point liner-notes are by Kimmo Korhonen and are in English and Finnish.

The overarching commitment and sympathetic insights of different engineers, conductors and orchestras are patent.

It is perhaps important to note that this box does not include all Rautavaara’s concertos. It does not make this claim. It does not for example include the Percussion Concerto Incantations.

These recordings were produced in collaboration with the composer between 1991 and 2005 and have been previously released to international popular and critical acclaim. Their original issue and provenance is given in the head-note.

Ondine has the field to itself as a single collected edition of the Rautavaara concertos. The rewards are great so don’t hesitate if you are at all interested or tempted. If the idea of twelve concertos by Rautavaara is too much then don’t overlook exploring individual discs including the Naxos version of piano concertos 2 and 3.  

This superb box is a wonderful successor to Ondine’s similar 4 CD venture for the eight symphonies on ODE1145-2Q. The two sets make ideal companions.

Rautavaara’s artistic journey is always powerful and often directly accessible, nuanced and patently sincere.

Rob Barnett 

Performance details
CD1
Elmar Oliveira (violin) Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra/Leif Segerstam (Violin Concerto; originally released (ODE 881-2)
Marko Ylönen (cello) Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra/Max Pommer (Cello Concerto; ODE 819-2)
Esko Laine (double-bass) Tapiola Sinfonietta/Jean-Jacques Kantorow (Double Bass Concerto; under licence from BIS)

CD2
Reija Bister (harp) Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra/Juha Kangas (Ballad for Harp and Strings; ODE 983-2D)
Marielle Nordmann (harp) Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra/Leif Segerstam (Harp Concerto; ODE 978-2)
Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra/Leif Segerstam plus composer’s tape recordings of arctic bird song (Cantus Arcticus; ODE 1041-2)

CD3
Patrick Gallois (C flute/piccolo/alto/bass) Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra/Leif Segerstam (Flute Concerto; ODE 921-2)
Richard Stoltzman (clarinet) Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra/Leif Segerstam (Clarinet Concerto; ODE 1041-2)
Kari Jussila (organ) Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra/Leif Segerstam (Organ Concerto; ODE 869-2)

CD4
Ralf Gothóni (piano) Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra/Max Pommer (Piano Concerto No. 1); Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra/Jukka-Pekka Saraste (No. 2; ODE 757-2); Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra/Vladimir Ashkenazy (from the piano) (No. 3; ODE 950-2)

 


EXPLORE MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL

Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews

 

Discographies
   Composer
      Composer surveys
   National
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
.
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

Interviews
With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site

Nostalgia

Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Comment
Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure

Announcements

 

Community
Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Reviewers
Pat and present

Helpers invited!

Resources
How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips


Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Publishers
Other links
Newsgroups
Web News sites etc

PotPourri
A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Questionnaire    
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Dictionary
Magazines
Newsfeed  
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools






Untitled Document


Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.