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Rautavaara: Modificata (Cello Concerto/ Percussion Concerto) (Ondine: ODE 1178-2) CD


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1. Cello Concerto No. 2 Towards the Horizon (20082009) - Truls Mork/Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra
2. Modificata (1957/2003) - Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra
3. Percussion Concerto Incantations (2008) - Colin Currie/Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra

Product Description

Product Description

This new recording couples Finnish composer Einojuhani Rautavaaras latest concerto works with an orchestral piece from his early Modernist period (Modificata; 1957/2003). The virtuoso Percussion Concerto Incantations (2008) features the Scottish percussion soloist Colin Currie, who is the dedicatee and prem. Rautavaaras Second Cello Concerto Towards the Horizon (2009) was written for cellist Truls Mørk and plays continuously in one 20-minute movement. Reviewing the premiere the Star Tribune noted that the composer acknowledges a taste for eternity and a vain of mysticsm runs through his work. Einojuhani Rautavaara is recognized as one of the most notable Finnish composers after Jean Sibelius. His recordings on Ondine have been bestsellers and garnered numerous awards (including a recent GRAMMY nomination for his opera Kaivos). Under their chief conductor John Storgårds, the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra builds on long-time pedigrees of performing their compatriots music.

Review

Storgards and the Helsinki Philharmonic give exemplary support in the big-boned textures of both concertos but also shine on their own. This is an immensely noteworthy issue, not as a potential epitaph for Rautavaara the concerto-composer but for the quality of the music-making itself. RECORDING OF THE MONTH --Gramophone, Apr'12

Beautifully recorded and definitive performances by the soloists who are their dedicatees. --Hilary Finch, BBC Music Magazine

They do have wonderful moments, and they are well played by the two soloists --Ivan Hewitt, The Daily Telegraph

The piece [Towards the Horizon] as a whole falls so beguilingly on the ear - it has a charming, old-fashioned elegance in its utterance again typical of the man who wrote it... This recording was Truls Mørk s chance to reclaim the work... and he plays it with evident feeling... There is no doubting Currie's boundless virtuosity, his responses to the music ranging from impressionist delicacy to fire-cracker energy. --Martin Anderson, International Record Review

Winner of a Gramophone Award,2012,for best contemporary CD. --Gramophone

'Ondine's headlining of what are billed as the last of Rautavaara's concertos has finally placed them centre stage. And what a magnificent, highly contrasted double they make... The support from the excellent Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra under John Storgards... and Ondine's sensational, vivid sound set the seal on a superb Contemporary Award-winner.' --Gramophone Awards Issue 2012 - Guy Rickards

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Amazon.com: 2 reviews
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Two sides of Rautavaara's genius 19 Mar 2012
By Daniel R. Coombs - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
As the booklet notes by fellow Finnish musician and critic Kimmo Korhonen point out, Einojuhani Rautavaara's music has evolved quite a bit from its serialist beginnnings some sixty years ago to its ethereal and tonal present rendition. This wonderful new disc from Ondine illustrates the point. Rautavaara's Cello Concerto No. 2, "Toward the Horizon", is an expansive and clearly Romantic work in one movement, but with three distinct and evocative sections. The "horizon" of the title could be the composer's view of a direction in which he sees his music moving; perhaps the evolution of his twelve concerti for a variety of instruments and this being - perhaps - his last. The sound is lush and very picturesque. The middle section being variations of the opening material and the last section being at first agitated, confused, searching for direction. It could also be that the "horizon" is a reference in simile to the final closing, high, soaring cello line - towards a musical horizon toward which the previous material has been pointing. No matter, this is a captivating and beautiful work written in the mysterious, arching manner of Rautavaara's later works. Truls Mork, for whom it was written performs with sensitivity and emotion. For "early" Rautavaara, this disc features Modificata, a work for orchestra written in 1957, revised in 2003. A three movement suite, this is intended to depict in musical terms the philosophical "dilemma of St. Augustine and Calvin". In this case, am essential twelve tone row serves as a motive for the "factor" of religious philosophy and providing the forms through which this factor can be expressed. The three movements (in this 2003 version); "Praevariata", "Meditatio" and "Affectio" are based both in theory as well as stylistically on the music of Alban Berg; who - in turn - was an inspiration source for Rautavaara's teacher, Wladimir Vogel. This is a very interesting piece, to be sure. I am not at all sure that this period for the composer's output would have made me the huge fan I am now; in part because his present voice is so uniquely compelling. It is, however, a very good work and would definitely remind people of works like Berg's Lyric Suite in places. Rautavaara's Incantations is a three movement percussion concerto and very much in line with his current style. Soloist Colin Currie is known for his virtuoso approach to modern music and Incantations shows off his mallet skills in particular. In fact, keyboard percussion is the principal timbre used throughout. The three movement work evokes a variety of moods and, as the composer's intent, sounds like a shamanistic percussion ceremony. Rautavaara, as Korhonen points out, did not want to "oversell" the shamanistic feel implied by the title, so he did not over use the predictable repeated patterns. Rather, the percussion tends to fit into a conversation with the rest of the orchestra in a most appealing way. Colin Currie demonstrates again why he is one of the world's great percussionists with a true sensitivity to modern music. The Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra under conductor John Storgards performs wonderfully. This for me was a little different view of Rautavaara. Modicata was a wholly new experience while Towards the Horizon was more the composer I knew but the results confirm why I still admire his work greatly
3 of 8 people found the following review helpful
"Modificata" is an entertaining early work, but the other pieces show how difficult concertos are for Rautavaara's late style 12 Nov 2012
By Christopher Culver - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Einojuhani Rautavaara. The Helsinki Philharmonic is conducted by John Storgårds, with soloists Truls Mørk (cello) and Colin Currie (percussion).

"Modificata" (1957) dates from the time Rautavaara discovered twelve-tone serialism. This composer had an especial gift at turning the twelve-tone techniques to very different ends than the total abstraction of 1950s modernism. His Symphony No. 3, for example, sounds like Bruckner of all things. The Symphony No. 4 should be completely impersonal, as it is a total serialist work, but it remains unmistakably Rautavaara and no one else.

"Modificata", on the other hand, is closest to the music of Alban Berg, namely the "Lulu Suite". Indeed, should any wary conserverative listener, attracted to this recording because Rautavaara is a "safe" modernist, find himself enjoying this piece, he should immediately get a Berg box set like that on Deutsche Grammophon and discover the riches of that composer. Rautavaara ascribed to "Modificata" an esoteric programme where the twelve-tone series is meant to represent a "philosophic dilemma of St Augustine and Calvin", but I wonder if that was written tongue-in-cheek: certainly this piece is best heard as lush pseudo-Viennese music.

The latter two pieces continue the style that Rautavaara has stuck with since the early-mid 1970s, long string lines, very simple triadic harmonies spiced with tone clusters, and a sense of invariable prettiness (helped by the fact that this composer likes to fulfill new commissions by rearranging older material). For the most part, if you've heard one piece from this era, you've heard them all.

The Cello Concerto No. 2 "Towards the Horizon" (2008-09) is like this, though the solo part is expressive enough to compensate for the unimaginative orchestral writing (if nowhere as meaty as the Cello Concerto No. 1). It is divided into three movements: "Theme", "Variations on the Theme" and "Finale", played without a break. The cadenza falls in the third movement and is played at the top of the instrument's range. This concerto is pleasant, but lightweight.

The Percussion Concerto "Incantations" (2008) also falls in three movements, "Pesante", "Espressivo", "Animato". After an introduction that is typical late Rautavaara, the soloist enters on xylophone, then switches to drums and cymbals. We know that he's got a wide array of instruments to work with and there's a moment of flashy virtuosity. But soon after, most of the piece is a cookie-cutter Rautavaara orchestral music with a minimum of percussion on top of it: the soloist plays exceedingly slow lines and never leaves the marimba. I don't expect much when new Rautavaara works are announced, to say the least, but I was appalled the first time I heard this concerto.
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