RAUTAVAARA: Cantus Arcticus / Piano Concerto No. 1 / Symphony No. 3 (Hannu Lintu/ Laura Mikkola/ Royal Scottish National Orchestra) (Naxos: 8.554147)
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Einojuhani Rautavaara(b. 1928)
Einojuhani Rautavaara is one of the most colourful and diverse figuresin Finnish music. He is an artist of exceptionally broad scope, at onceRomantic and intellectual, mysticist and constructivist. He has gone through agreat many stages in his stylistic development, yet he has combined differentstylistic elements in post-modernist fashion within individual works.
Rautavaara began his career under the influence of post-war Neo-Classicism; inthe 1950s, he began to apply twelve-tone procedures and progressed in someworks to quite a modernist idiom. On the other hand, even works written closeto each other in time could differ widely in their approach; for instance, inhis Third Symphony, written in the middle of his twelve-tone period, hegave free rein to the luscious romantic emotion that came to dominate his musicfrom the late onwards. Since the late 1970s, he has been creating a synthesisof various stylistic influences. Rautavaara's extensive and versatile output containsseveral operas, seven symphonies, other orchestral works, concertos, chambermusic, piano music and vocal music. Rautavaara has been a major Finnishcomposer since the 1950s, and has been steadily gaining in internationalesteem, especially in the 1990s.
Orchestral music is an important genre in Rautavaara's work. Thesymphonies form its core, spanning his career and illustrating his stylisticdevelopment. We should note, though, that Rautavaara's symphonic cycle did nottake on its present form until the 1980s, when the composer revised the firsttwo symphonies and replaced the original Fourth Symphony with Arabescata(1962). From the late 1960s and early 1970s in particular, Rautavaara'sorchestral music has been characterized by an opulent sonority and grandromantic gestures. His expressive palette extends from lyrical soaring melodiesto incisive rhythms and massive cascades of sound. The various solo concertoscombine these features with a soloistic and instrumental dimension. Rautavaarahas remarked that his concertos are "a drama, a conflict between theindividual and the collective".
Cantus Arcticus, Concerto for birds and orchestra (1972)
The Cantus Arcticus was commissioned by the 'Arctic' Universityof Oulu for its degree ceremony. Instead of the conventional festive cantatafor choir and orchestra, I wrote a 'concerto for birds and orchestra'. The birdsounds were taped in the Arctic Circle and the marshlands of Liminka. The firstmovement, Suo ('The Marsh'), opens with two solo flutes. They aregradually joined by other wind instruments and the sounds of bog birds inspring. Finally, the strings enter with abroad melody that might be interpreted as the voiceand mood of a person walking in the wilds. In Melankolia, the featuredbird is the shore lark; its twitter has been brought down by two octaves tomake it a 'ghost bird'. Joutsenet muuttavat ('Swans migrating') is analeatory texture with four independent instrumental groups. The textureconstantly increases in complexity, and the sounds of the migrating swans aremultiplied too, until finally the sound is lost in the distance.
Piano Concerto No. 1 (1969)
My First Piano Concerto was a very personal composition: it waswritten for my own idiosyncratic piano technique, and in fact I have performedit myself with many orchestras. I was disappointed at that time with the strictacademic structuring of serialist music and the ascetic mainstream style ofpiano music, which I found anaemic. In the concerto, therefore, I returned tothe aesthetics of expressiveness and a sonorous, 'grand-style' keyboardtechnique. One could say that this was a post-modernist work created beforeanyone had even invented the term. The concerto opens with unabashed palmclusters, which in the recapitulation become forearm clusters, these, however,are underpinned by arpeggios and the overall effect is replete with unbridledsinging pathos. From the beginning of the second movement to the end of thework there is a continuous escalation. The slow movement expands, coalesces andaccelerates until a dissonant and dramatic cadenza leads into the unrestraineddance of the concluding movement in 3+2+3 time, a rhythm that can also be foundin several of my other works.
Symphony No. 3 (1959-60)
In my cycle of symphonies, the Third is a sort of synthesis ofthe romanticism of the First and the modernism of the Second. Thelistener will not necessarily be aware that the music is in fact dodecaphonic,since the technique is not used here to generate full chromaticism oratonality. The twelve tones of the tempered chromatic scale are merely the'vocabulary' of twentieth century music, and the 'syntax' one uses to constructthe actual music is the main question. The intervals of the Third Symphony arederived from a twelve-tone row. The music, however, is freely constructed andemphatically tonal. The musical pulse of the fourth movement progresses insolemn, almost Brucknerian arcs, as if echoing the rhythm of the earth and sea.
Hannu Lintu was born in Finland 1967. He studied piano and cello firstat the Conservatory in Turku and later at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki. Hebegan his conducting studies with Atso Almila, later working with Jorma Panula,Ilja Musin and Eri Klas, as well as participating in the master classes ofMyung Whun Chung in Siena. In 1994 he won the Nordic Conductors Competition inBergen and has since conducted the Bergen and Helsinki Philharmonic orchestrasand the symphony orchestras of Stavanger, Trondheim, Finnish Radio and SwedishRadio. In the autumn of 1995 he was appointed Artistic Director of the BergenCollegium Musicum, and in 1998 he assumed the same r??le with the TurkuPhilharmonic Orchestra.