Instantly communicative, rich and very rewarding
Mark Swinton | 05/13/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Finnish Radio Chamber Choir consists of some of Finland's finest singers, and they have made a strong case in recent years for Rautavaara's sacred music. On this outstanding CD, they present a concerted version of his settings for the Orthodox Vigil and Mattins services. Those of you who know Rachmaninov's similar settings (especially if through the recordings by the Corydon Singers or King's College Choir) will find this disc a must-have: it is a thoroughly engrossing counterpart to those works, albeit in the Finnish language and with all the subtle nuances of the Finnish Orthodox Church. To those who have never before encountered the Orthodox Vigil, this should still provide a most rewarding hour of listening, as Rautavaara reveals the height of his skill as a composer through the medium of unaccompanied vocal music. He clearly understands how the voice works and exploits all sorts of different singing techniques in the music to magical (if sometimes eerie) effect. Particular examples include the use of a female semi-chorus that chants the Hymn to the Mother of God in toneless whispers whilst the male voices drone and a soprano soloist sings the words above them; also, there are several solo passages such as the opening tenor solo which use microtones. Rautavaara even shows the same healthy respect for Orthodox musical traditions as Rachmaninov, Stravinsky and Tavener- specifically, in the inner section of the "Psalm of Invocation," which uses controlled but wild-sounding glissandi for full chorus, thereby 'quoting' an element of Byzantine music.With 24 singers and four immaculate soloists, Timo Nuoranne conducts the two services with sensitivity and brilliance. From the haunting "Amen" at the very opening to the radiant cluster chords of the "Many Years" salutation at the end, this is a truly astounding programme, made all the richer by Ondine's expert recording. I urge anyone who enjoys choral music to try this one out- and as the choir sings praise to God through Rautavaara's intensely communicative score, you yourself may end up singing their praises. Very strongly recommended!"
Coming closer to the world of the divine
Guna | DELHI, India | 06/30/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I bought Vigilia after hearing an excerpt on a television biography of Rautavaara. The 24 Finnish Radio Chamber Choir singers, along with their 4 fine soloists, give a wonderful performance. The music could be called the modern equivilant of a Bach chorale - it is full of wonderful vocal and harmonic effects which go very well with the words, and when you hear it you feel like your surroundings have dissolved, and there is a single bright light ahead, and you are in the presence of God.
Some of my favourite tracks on the CD: No. 3 "1st Katisma", with its grand "Halleluyah" with stirring harmonies; No. 8 "Ekteniya" which begins with constantly growing chords of diatonic 2nds building to a climax; No. 11 "Sticheron" with soprano chords over a bass drone, and then vice versa; Nos. 14 and 34 "Final Blessing" which close off each section with contemplative and satisfying finish; and especially No. 33 "Troparion of the ressurrection" (containing material heard earlier), which contains a wide variety of effects; the grand melody near the end has a wonderful triumphant flavour.
Overall I strongly recommend this CD."
Best recording by a soon-to-be-abolished choir
Charles Kamm | 10/15/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Rautavaara's Vigilia is certainly his choral masterpiece, capitalizing on his rather ecclectic style by presenting a unified work reflecting the composer's mystical worldview combining European modernism with byzantine orthodoxy. This disc is the finest recorded by the Finnish Radio Chamber Choir. Choir and soloists are superb. Timo Nuoranne's shaping of this lengthy, "all-night" service captivated me; when I first heard the disc I was immediately drawn into the sound world created, and listened to it three times in succession.
Lovers of contemporary Finnish music might want to know that on 14 October 2004, the Finnish Broadcasting Company announced they will abolish the Radio Chamber Choir after the 2004-2005 season. The Chamber Choir was founded in 1961 and has premiered nearly 100 works."