Rautavaara: A Requiem In Our Time - Complete Works For Brass
The Finnish Brass Symphony, directed by Hannu Lintu, has recorded a masterful survey of music by countryman Einojuhani Rautavaara. Spanning more than 45 years of the composer's work, the album functions as something of a compendium of themes that Rautavaara has returned to time and again in his music, from the dodecaphonic experiments of the Wind Octet to his ongoing fascination with angels. In this performance of 1981's Playgrounds for Angels, it becomes unclear if the playgrounds belong entirely to terrifying otherworldly beings or to these instrumentalists, whose superb ensemble skills definitely qualify them as supernaturally talented. 1953's A Requiem in our Time has been recorded at least four times, most memorably--until now--on a BIS disc with Brass Partout. The bold strokes and brash colors of this work are reflected in the more rare Soldier's Mass from 1968, whose "In Hora Mortis" movement presages the shimmering intensity of Rautavaara's later works.
A few shorter compositions round out the collection. Originally written as a compulsory piece for a trumpet competition, the Tarantará must have struck fear into the hearts of those brass players--in Rautavaara's hands, the instrument is nothing short of a wild animal that shrieks, growls, and leaps all over the register with dizzying speed. The extraordinary trumpeter Pasi Pirinen makes it all seem easy. The fanfare written for Finland's 75th independence anniversary is a mere 37 seconds long: blink twice, and you miss it entirely. The most recent composition, 1998's Hymnus for trumpet and organ, ably performed by Deborah Calland and Barry Millington, completes the survey. Kudos to Ondine for a marvelous recording.
--Anastasia Tsioulcas, ClassicsToday.com
Catalog Number: ODE 957-2
Composer: Einojuhani Rautavaara
Conductor: Hannu Lintu
Orchestra/Ensemble: Finnish Brass Symphony
Performer: Pasi Pirinen, Seppo Murto