Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Einojuhani Rautavaara, Leif Segerstam, Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra|
Rautavaara: Symphony No. 8 (The Journey) / Harp Concerto
Listen to Samples
A Sense of Wonder
o dubhthaigh | north rustico, pei, canada | 01/03/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Having attended the world premier of the Eighth Symphony in Philadelphia in 2001, I was looking forward to and hoping that Ondine would tackle the recording with another Orchestra for a couple of reasons: the acoustics of the Academy of Music did not bring out the subtleties in the work and in point of fact, the horns flubbed the ending of the second movement. I was somewhat startled, but in fact, it seemed like one of the horn players lost his breath.
I happen to enjoy Rautavaara's music enormously, and this recording is a wonder.Perhaps it is the cultural affinity that the Helsinki Philarmonic shares with Rautavaara (Philadelphia long being known as a German & Italian influenced ensemble, especially since the days of Muti), perhaps it is my own northern heritage, but whatever the reason, Leif Segerstam and the orchestra have gotten inside the music and the mystery, that sense of wonder that fills my imagination when I listen to this composer. The disc opens with a concerto for harp and orchestra and it is a piece that seems to hang in the air, a bit as though it were a display of the northern lights in that eternal Scandinavian twilight. It seems to lay the perfect ground for the 8th to begin. Appropriately entitled "The Journey", and often referred to by the composer as evocative of his thoughts on the road thus far, it is one of his most compelling pieces. Not as dramatic as some of the various "Angel" compositions, it nonetheless has that same sense of looking back over the landscape. In Tom Waits' terms, "it ain't the years, it's the mileage;" Rautavaara has seemed to pull together the thematic inspiration of a long and wonderfully crafted career to sum up where he is in order to refocus his gaze toward the future. Whether there is a number 9 in the works or some other expression of his soul, and this is indeed soul music, at this moment we have cause to examine the night sky and contenplate what a journey each of us has traversed."
andrew john raiskums | Melbourne, Australia | 03/19/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Having heard 'Angel of Light' some years ago I was keen to hear these new works by the now 73 year old Einojuhani Rautavaara. 'Angel of Light' is a great piece, but the Symphony no. 8 is, in my opinion, even better. The sweep and sense of integration in this work is compelling; the culmination of the symphony's fourth movement, where all the lines finally coalesce, overwhelming. Rautavaara's handling of the orchestra is always imaginative and evocative, nowhere more so than in this symphony. The divisi strings, often opened out to create a magical sense of space, the duetting woodwind pairs, the massed brass writing, the wonderful writing for timpani and harp (the harp writing in the third movement adds much to its desolate and disembodied feel)- all these things contribute to the unique sound-world of this piece. Allusions to other composers are there-Ravel perhaps in the opening, Sibelius in the writing for winds, Bruckner in the long-held pedal points, but these create their own sense of continuity, something I'm sure Rautavaara himself would acknowledge.
The Harp Concerto is a really lovely work, eminently written for the instrument rather than against. Having two extra harps in the orchestra might seem like overkill, but these are often brought in to reinforce and subtly extend the solo part. And although the washes of three-part harp writing in the second and third movements are gorgeous, there are dramatic undercurrents too that call for some special effects form the harps, with sinister murmurings from muted trombones and in the last movement, the bizarre rattling of a musical saw. Two major new works from this composer, and in superb sonics as well. Hugely enjoyable."
Good compositions but not anything exceptional
Crt Sojar Voglar | Ljubljana, Slovenia | 02/12/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Einojuhani Rautavaara is definitely one of my favourite contemporary composers of classical music. I have nearly everything orchestral he has composed. However, I am a bit reserved towards this two compositions presented on this CD, Concerto for harp and orchestra and Eighth symphony.
Concerto for harp does have some memorable thematic moments, and Rautavaara knows how to handle the relationship between fragile strength of harp and relatively large orchestra but there is a lack of agility which seems to be Rautavaara's weak point in his opus. I personaly do not see this work becoming world famous.
Eighth symphony is quite similar to seventh. While seventh symphony "The Angel of Light" shows Rautavaara's new and fresh musical language which makes symphony outstanding, the eighth symphony only confirms his current musical orientation and does not improve it or enhance. True, he is a great master of modern orchestration and has an excellent taste for beauty and exciting colouring, but it seems that Rautavaara's symphonies with even numbers are not so interesting as the 'odd ones'.
I will not say anything about the performances as we know that the recordings at the Ondine Label with Leif Segerstam are always superior. And this CD is no exception."