WORKS: Angel of Light; Annunciations
PERFORMER: Kari Jussila (organ); Helsinki PO/Leif Segerstam
CATALOGUE NO: ODE 869-2 DDD
Einojuhani Rautavaara, who is now approaching seventy, is one of Finland’s leading composers. Not only has he written seven operas and seven concertos but now, like his great compatriot Sibelius, seven symphonies of which his latest, dating from 1994, appears here. Angel of Light is a large-scale four-movement work and is the most recent in Rautavaara’s ‘Angel Series’. It takes its place alongside Angels and Visitations and Angel of Dusk (a double bass concerto) which have appeared over the past twenty years. The works are not programmatic – Rautavaara regards angels as an archetype, one of man’s perennial companions. With the exception of the spiky second movement, the language of the Angel of Light is decidedly tonal, a throwback to works written at the beginning of the century, which for the innocent listener could produce much head-scratching in attempting to place it. Leif Segerstam encourages some very fine playing from the Helsinki PO, phrases lovingly shaped.
Annunciations, written nearly twenty years earlier, is the more interesting work. Composed for the Stockholm Organ Festival, here is a highly individual concerto for organ combining the intriguing colours of brass group and symphonic wind orchestra. Kari Jussila is the thrilling soloist in a sensitively balanced recording. Annette Morreau