Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Einojuhani Rautavaara - Song of My Heart; Orchestral Songs (Gabriel Suovanen; Leif Segerstam)


Composer: Einojuhani Rautavaara
  • (01-03) Three Sonnets of Shakespeare
  • (04-08) Fünf Sonette an Orpheus
  • (09-12) Die Liebenden
  • (13-16) Guds väg
  • (17-19) Three Songs from the Opera Aleksis Kivi

Gabriel Suovanen, baritone
Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra
Leif Segerstam, conductor

Date: 2006
Label: Ondine




The most wonderful thing about Rautavaara’s songs is that no matter what the technical basis of his compositional method, he understands that “song” means an evocative text set to a singable melody. You may not go away humming all of the tunes here, particularly in the brief, powerful, and oddly disturbing cycle God’s Way (to poems by Bo Setterlind), but there’s no questioning the fundamental rightness of Rautavaara’s reaction to the words, or his ability to project his feelings into an expressive vocal line. That’s not something to be taken for granted nowadays, when grateful and effective writing for the voice is no longer the basis of most composers’ techniques, whether writing for people or for instruments.

The remaining four sets of songs on this disc all employ texts of the highest quality, by Shakespeare (in English, by the way), Rilke, and Finnish poet Aleksis Kivi. The Rilke settings are particularly moving, nowhere more so than The Lovers, whose third song, “Woman Loving”, ought to be a recital classic by now. The three songs taken from the opera Aleksis Kivi also deserve to find a life of their own away from the larger work. They stand among the most hauntingly beautiful of Rautavaara’s latest creations. Baritone Gabriel Suovanen sings all of this music with warm tone and great musical intelligence, and he couldn’t be better accompanied than by Segerstam and the Helsinki Philharmonic. Ideally balanced sound rounds out this most enticing picture of Rautavaara’s generously lyrical art. [2/6/2007]

-- 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.


Gabriel Suovanen (born 8 February, 1974 in Stockholm) is a Swedish opera baritone singer. He studied singing at the Sibelius Academy in 1993-94, and graduated from the Stockholm Opera School in the 1997-98 season. Gabriel Suovanen has won several prizes in distinguished singing competitions. He performed in the world premières performance of the opera Rasputin by Einojuhani Rautavaara in autumn 2003 in Helsinki alongside with Matti Salminen. In addition to his progressing opera career, Suovanen also enjoys performing Lied and concerts.


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