Rautavaara: Magnificat; Canticum Mariae Virginis; Credo; Nattvarden; Ave Maria; Missa duodecanonica

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COMPOSERS: Rautavaara
LABELS: Ondine
WORKS: Magnificat; Canticum Mariae Virginis; Credo; Nattvarden; Ave Maria; Missa duodecanonica
PERFORMER: Finnish Radio Chamber Choir/Timo Nuoranne
CATALOGUE NO: ODE 935-2
Rautavaara’s output for choir is both extensive and of quality. The present issue traverses his career from the Fifties through to the mid-Eighties. The Ave Maria (1957) for male voices and the Missa duodecanonica (1963) for female voices are both dodecaphonic, though Rautavaara’s serialism is (to use an overworn expression) accessible in much the same way as is Frank Martin’s. There is a directness of utterance and expressive eloquence about this music; the Magnificat of 1979, which the composer tells us is the first Finnish setting of the text, is particularly striking. The musical lines unfold as naturally and seamlessly as they always do with this composer. The ‘Evening Hymn’ from the Vigilia (1971-2) hovers between two chords in what must be an unconscious echo of the E flat major/E minor close of Vaughan Williams’s Sixth Symphony. The singing of the Finnish Radio Chamber Choir under Timo Nuoranne exhibits good security of pitch and subtlety of colour and tonal blend. I was almost reminded of the Swedish Radio Choir in its heyday with the legendary Eric Ericsson in the Seventies to early Eighties. I cannot imagine these performances being surpassed, and the Ondine recording is truthfully and expertly balanced. Robert Layton

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