Top positive review
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Good account of Rautavaara's most distinctive work
on 16 August 2003
Cantus Articus was the work that got me into Rautavaara's music - the second movement, Melankolia, is for me one of the most beautiful pieces of classical music produced in the past 50 years. In this unusual work, tape recordings of arctic bird song are superbly mixed in with orchestral playing. The effect can be simply magical and one can picture oneself by a lake in Northern Finland, watching the swans fly and the midges dance on an endless summer evening. This was the piece with which Rautavaara abandoned his adherence to the rigid forms of post-war atonalism and, to my mind at least, his masterpiece.
The Piano Concerto is a more angular, atonal, work with lots of clashing harmonies. However it also has a real energy and verve with some ravishing interplay between the strings and the piano, especially in the middle movement.
Finally there's the 3rd symphony, the first two movements of which are full of gorgeous broad chords on string and brass, very reminiscent of Sibelius. In the latter movements the pace picks up as the sympony heads towards a rousing finish.
The RNSO, who seem to be Naxos' specialist Rautavaara orchestra, give a good account of all of this. With this CD at such a low price there's no better introduction to this composer.