Friday, February 3, 2017

Einojuhani Rautavaara - 12 Concertos (Various Artists)


Composer: Einojuhani Rautavaara

   • (01-02) Concerto for Violin and Orchestra
          Elmar Oliveira, violin; Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, cond. Leif Segerstam
   • (03-05) Concerto for Cello and Orchestra
          Marko Ylönen, cello; Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, cond, Max Pommer
   • (06-08) Concerto for Double Bass and Orchestra "Angel of Dusk"
          Esko Laine, double bass; Tapiola Sinfonietta, cond. Jean-Jacques Kantorow

   • (01) Ballad for Harp and Strings
          Reija Bister, harp; Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra, cond. Juha Kangas
   • (02-04) Concerto for Harp and Orchestra
          Marielle Nordmann. harp; Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, cond. Leif Segerstam
   • (05-07) Concerto for Birds and Orchestra "Cantus Articus"
          Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, cond. Leif Segerstam

   • (01-04) Concerto for Flute and Orchestra "Dances with the Winds"
          Patrick Gallois, flute; Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, cond. Leif Segerstam
   • (05-07) Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra
          Richard Stoltzman, clarinet; Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, cond. Leif Segerstam
   • (08) Concerto for Organ, Brass Quintet and Symphonic Wind Orchestra "Annunciations"
          Kari Jussila, organ; Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, cond. Leif Segerstam

   • (01-03) Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 1
          Ralf Gothóni, piano; Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra, cond. Max Pommer
   • (04-06) Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 2
          Ralf Gothóni, piano; Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, cond. Jukka-Pekka Saraste
   • (07-09) Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 3 "Gift of Dreams"
          Vladimir Ashkenazy, piano & conductor; Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra

Date: 1989-2004
Compilation: 2009
Label: Ondine




Okay, the Ballade for Harp and String Orchestra technically isn't a concerto, but who's counting? Rautavaara's concertos are arguably more consistent and representative than his symphonies. The First Piano Concerto, the earliest work here, exudes the sort of spiky Finno-Russian neoclassicism that we find in Englund and Shostakovich, but from the Second Piano Concerto on Rautavaara is very much his own man, and every one of these pieces, even the relatively gnarly concertos for organ and double bass, are well worth getting to know. Several strike me as flat-out masterpieces, including the Second and Third Piano Concertos, the Violin Concerto, the Harp Concerto, and of course Cantus Arcticus for taped birds and orchestra. 

Furthermore, the performances are all first rate, from Ralf Gothóni and Vladimir Ashkenazy in the piano concertos, to Elmar Oliveira, Richard Stolzman, and Patrick Gallois in the concertos for violin, clarinet, and flute, respectively. The orchestral accompaniments leave nothing to be desired either, and the engineering is uniformly excellent. All of these works have appeared previously in Ondine's Rautavaara edition where many have been reviewed in detail at, but coupling them this way makes an ideal introduction to the composer and his special sound world. I just hope this set, which inevitably has a retrospective feel to it, doesn't mean that Rautavaara will not continue to produce symphonic works and concertos despite the ill-health he has suffered recently. By all means, indulge!

--  David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday

More reviews:


Einojuhani Rautavaara (9 October 1928 – 27 July 2016) was a Finnish composer of classical music. He is among the most notable Finnish composers since Jean Sibelius. Rautavaara wrote a great number of works spanning various styles. These include 8 symphonies, 9 operas and 12 concerti, as well as numerous vocal and chamber works. Having written early works using 12-tone serial techniques, his later music may be described as Neo-romantic and mystical. Almost all of Rautavaara's works have been recorded by Ondine. Some of his major works have also been recorded by Naxos and BIS.


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