Einojuhani RAUTAVAARA (b. 1928)
Lost Landscapes (2005) [20:33]
Summer Thoughts (1972/2008) [4:28]
April Lines (1970/2006) [8:55]
Notturno e Danza (1993) [7:18]
Variétude for solo violin (1974) [6:01]
Dithyrambos (1970) [2:22]
Pelimannit (The Fiddlers) - suite for piano based on traditional fiddle tunes (1952) [20:03]
Pekka Kuusisto (violin)
Paavali Jumppanen (piano)
rec. Sello Hall, Espoo, Finland, 28-30 December 2010. DDD
ONDINE ODE 1177-2 [70:31]

Ondine has confirmed its superior position by issuing boxed collections of Rautavaara's symphonies and concertos. These pieces for violin and piano are less ambitious and more directly accessible. The Lost Landscapes have titles linked to the composer's pilgrim student years in the 1950s. Tanglewood refers to his sojourn in Boston having been selected for the scholarship by Sibelius. There he studied with Sessions and Copland. The music for this and the other pieces is lyrical with a slightly dissonant buzz. It's like Howells with astringent attitude. Summer Thoughts recycles material from the 1970s though not the tough erudition of the Violin Concerto and Third Symphony. The music bubbles up with a lyrical and touching impulse. April Lines draws on incomplete ideas from the same decade but is slightly more caustic. The crystalline faceting of Notturno e Danza describes a double arc in a broadly rung carillon. The piano provides breathing and punctuation for the lovely lines spun by the violin. This is a delightful piece - fresh, lucid and singing with joy and a faint overlay of sorrow. The 1974 Variétude takes us back to the dissonant and barbed embroidery of the spiky years. The very brief Dithyrambos sprints with the joy later recaptured in Summer Thoughts and April Lines. The six movements of The Fiddlers Suite will, like as not, be known at least to staunch followers of Finnish music by the orchestral variant once found on a Fennica LP. It is heard here in the version for solo piano. Each of the tunes is preceded by Kuusisto playing the fiddle tune that corresponds to each of the six movements. The music has a relishably harsh drone to catch the rasp of the folk originals. Everything is well documented, nicely honed and polished yet fresh and well connected to folk dance. It’s almost Hardyesque with moments that hint at Grainger and Bartók.

Rob Barnett

Fresh, lucid and singing with joy and a faint overlay of sorrow