Rautavaara: Cello Concerto No. 2; Modificata; Percussion Concerto

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COMPOSERS: Rautavaara
LABELS: Ondine
ALBUM TITLE: Rautavaara
WORKS: Cello Concerto No. 2; Modificata; Percussion Concerto
PERFORMER: Truls Mørk (cello), Colin Currie (percussion); Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra/John Storgårds
CATALOGUE NO: ODE 1178-2

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A late and lush harvest of works by octogenarian Einojuhani Rautavaara continues apace. Here we have eagerly awaited documentation of his two latest neo-Romantic concertos, in beautifully recorded and definitive performances by the soloists who are their dedicatees.

The 2008 Percussion Concerto, entitled Incantations, was both inspired by and written in collaboration with Colin Currie. It’s one of Rautavaara’s most immediate and colourful concertos, framed by a majestic statement of purpose. Its finale is a dizzying dance, whose improvised cadenza seems to point to the soloist as much as the composer as the shaman of the piece.

The Cello Concerto No. 2 moves inexorably, as its title suggests, Towards the Horizon. Truls Mørk’s free and graceful flights of endlessly varying and regenerating melody come after a powerful pentatonic opening theme, almost Sibelian in strength. The cello’s voice, both dreamlike and impassioned, is accompanied in its flight by avian woodwind, buffeted here and there by storm clouds of timpani.

In between the two concertos, Rautavaara’s revised version of his 1957 12-tone work, the three-movement suite Modificata, forms a well-chosen and sympathetic companion piece.

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Hilary Finch