The questionable popularity of Cantus Articus
Crt Sojar Voglar | Ljubljana, Slovenia | 08/01/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Even if Cantus Articus seems to be Rautavaara's most popular work, I do not consider this piece a great one, at least not for the concert performance. It works perfectly as a scene music on Discovery channel or Animal planet, but since there is no fast movement (again) in this work, I find it pretty boring. The melodies are simple and beautiful, and bring Sibelius' Swan of Tuonela in mind, and the recorded sounds of birds are intriguing, but three slow (sluggish!) movements are too much.
Fourth symphony is clearly Rautavaara's most radical composition. Even such composer as Rautavaara cannot achieve beauty with serial techniques. It shows again how the constructivist's methods of the 50-ies and 60-ies of 20th century were doomed to last long.
But the fifth symphony is gorgeus! Even if it again lacks the agility, fortunately Rautavaara had enough artistic strength to create more simple music, but with something new: the orchestral colour, the rises and drops of chords (C major triad is notable) and fragile and haunting beauty make this symphony a memorable one. It looks like Rautavaara had more luck with symphonies of odd numbers and less with even numbers. Maybe on purpose? We'll probably never know."