Rautavaara: Complete works for string orchestra

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COMPOSERS: Rautavaara
LABELS: Ondine
WORKS: Complete works for string orchestra
PERFORMER: Ostrobothnian CO/Juha Kangas
CATALOGUE NO: ODE 983-2D Reissue (1994, 1995)
At first hearing the range seems immense: from the early Divertimento and Suite for Strings (triadic in a Vaughan Williams-like manner, but with a dash of Bartók) to the voluptuous mysticism of Hommage à Zoltán Kodály and Canto IV, in which the creator of the popular Angel of Light is clearly recognisable. The more one listens, though, the easier it is to chart the development of a single voice; there’s the continuing influence of folk music (explicit or not), and the welcome lack of shame when it comes to using familiar warmly expressive tonal phrases or harmonies. The Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra sounds comfortable and enthusiastic in all these pieces, and the sound, if a little hard, is bright and clear. Stephen Johnson