Rautavaara: Symphony No. 7 (Angel of Light); Angels and Visitations

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Rautavaara
LABELS: Naxos
WORKS: Symphony No. 7 (Angel of Light); Angels and Visitations
PERFORMER: Royal Scottish NO/Hannu Koivula
CATALOGUE NO: 8.555814
The Seventh Symphony dates from the mid-Nineties: its subtitle, Angel of Light, merely relates it to the archetypal Angel series which Rautavaara began 20 years ago with Angels and Visitations, its coupling on this disc. Remarkably, this is the third recording of the Symphony, albeit the first by a non-Finnish orchestra – and the first at bargain price. Of its two predecessors, Leif Segerstam distilled a powerful atmosphere in his pioneering Ondine recording, though Osmo Vänskä and the Lahti Symphony Orchestra are notable for the concentration and intensity they bring to this imaginative and finely wrought score. They also offer two generous couplings, the Cantus arcticus and the Dances with the Winds with Patrick Gallois as the brilliant soloist. But there are no grumbles about the present issue: Hannu Koivula holds the piece together well and gets a keen response from the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and the sound has impressive definition and range. If price is no object, the Vänskä would remain my first choice – he, too, has the benefit of a superb recording and to my mind casts the stronger spell. But for those disinclined to pay full price, this is a thoroughly recommendable and welcome alternative. Robert Layton

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