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Rautavaara: Symphony No. 7 "Angel of Light"
Einojuhani Rautavaara, Hannu Koivula, Royal Scottish National Orchestra
Rautavaara: Symphony No. 7 "Angel of Light"
Genre: Classical
 
  •  Track Listings (5) - Disc #1

To get to the second piece on this CD first, "Angels and Visitations" is Rautavaara at his darkest and most mysterious (the work was inspired by the composer's childhood dreams). It isn't exactly tonal--melodies and motifs...  more »

      
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CD Details

All Artists: Einojuhani Rautavaara, Hannu Koivula, Royal Scottish National Orchestra
Title: Rautavaara: Symphony No. 7 "Angel of Light"
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 0
Label: Naxos
Original Release Date: 1/1/2003
Re-Release Date: 2/18/2003
Genre: Classical
Style: Symphonies
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 747313581429

Synopsis

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To get to the second piece on this CD first, "Angels and Visitations" is Rautavaara at his darkest and most mysterious (the work was inspired by the composer's childhood dreams). It isn't exactly tonal--melodies and motifs pile up on one another disturbingly--but it's not rehashed Romanticism, either. It's a unique blend, and the menacing lower strings are offset by the calming upper ones; insane brass interruptions are as interesting as the occasional background bells. The Seventh Symphony is an altogether different matter. It floats along, sometimes evoking nature at its most benign (a flute and harp interlude in the first movement, horns and woodwinds in the third), sometimes at its most unpredictable (in the brass throughout). The playing of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra is excellent, and Hannu Koivula clearly understands Rautavaara. If Leif Segerstam's performances of these works (on Ondine) are a bit more potent, well, Naxos's price--less than half--makes up for that potency. Rautavaara is a great composer, easy to get to know and fascinating. Recommended. --Robert Levine
 

CD Reviews

Competition for Segerstam's versions at half the price
J Scott Morrison | Middlebury VT, USA | 03/13/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"A friend once asked me to explain how Rautavaara achieves his usually instantly recognizable sound-world, and off the top of my head, and trying for humor, I replied, 'Well, imagine Debussy had a baby by Sibelius. When he grew up he'd be Rautavaara.' Not very funny, but afterwards I kept thinking about it and realized that I probably wasn't far off the mark. Combine the harmonies of Debussy with the dramatic use of the lower orchestral instruments by Sibelius and you come close. Add the Martinu-like layering of blocs of horn chords and string chords, all in minimalist slow harmonic motion, and you get even closer. Yet, somehow Rautavaara manages something new that I can't quite put my finger on. He accomplishes ecstasy and drama in equal measure. However he does it, his music is unfailingly beautiful.Leif Segerstam has recorded both the Seventh Symphony, subtitled 'Angel of Light,' and another 'Angels' piece, 'Angels and Visitations' (prompted by some childhood dreams of Rautavaara), but they are not on the same disc. His performances are a bit more edgy or, if you prefer, more potent than these performances here. But Hannu Koivula and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra do very well by these pieces, too, and actually, to my ears, achieve more of the ecstatic stasis that occurs in spots in both these works. The performances are quite good, the price is certainly terrific, and the recorded sound is clean and truthful. If you want either or both of these pieces, and don't already have the Segerstam performances on the Ondine label, I'd suggest you go for it!"
Rautavaara's seventh symphony: simply beautiful!
Crt Sojar Voglar | Ljubljana, Slovenia | 07/31/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I praise Rautavaara for writing such music! The seventh symphony is clearly one of the most beautiful compositions ever! I know, some people (mostly so-called 'professionals' and critics) will call it sentimental, too sweet and perfect for Hollywood romantic feature film. But if you are a normal human being and feelings, you should simply close your eyes and let the sound colours touch your heart. The angels are mysterious, nice, gentle and caring (first and third movement), sometimes a bit nasty (malicious second movement) and glorius (fourth movement).

Angels and visitations are the composer's written experience when he visioned a nightmare as a child. This angels were obviously not friendly. The music contains some soft but tense beauty and terror-like explosions in the orchestra. The masterful orchestral fantasy and a fine example of so-called 'post-modernism'. Rautavaara, thank you very much for providing us with such great classical music of the new age!"
Rautavaara's modern romanticism
R. Hutchinson | a world ruled by fossil fuels and fossil minds | 03/20/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Finland's Rautavaara, after exploring the world of serialism as a young man, turned toward lush romanticism later in life. With this Symphony No. 7 "Angel of Light" (1994), he dramatically expanded his audience, as he tapped a popular longing for tonality and meaning in classical music. The meaning is only hinted at -- he says the "angel" is not to be taken literally -- but still it has seemed to resonate with the Zeitgeist. This is excellent music which continues the romantic symphonic tradition.

The structure of the piece is a conventional symphonic form, with a fast second movement and a slow third movement, but it is an odd juxtoposition of styles and moods. The first movement invokes, for me, a Scandinavian nature tableau, a grand panorama of wind, waves and craggy shorelines that Sibelius would recognize as his offspring. Then comes the ironic scherzo with mocking horns, a Prokofievian turn, and an element that does not seem to clearly fit with the rest of the work. It is the slow movement (Come un sogno -- Like a dream), that has most impressed listeners with its sense of spirituality, wonder and awe. It seems to combine romantic melodiousness with the holy minimalism of Part. The finale returns to a heroic Sibelius mode. The accompanying piece, "Angels and Visitations" (1978), is a more disturbing work, which contrasts frightening, powerful blasts of dissonance with somber, Part-like interludes.

This is, I believe, the second recording of the 7th Symphony, following Segerstam's on Ondine. Hannu Koivula and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra are superb, and there is no need to fear that the low Naxos price indicates low quality. This is a recording that has met with universal critical acclaim."