Rautavaara: 12 Concertos / Oliveira, Ashkenazy

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Okay, the Ballade for Harp and String Orchestra technically isn't a concerto, but who's counting? Rautavaara's concertos are arguably more consistent and representative than his symphonies. The First Piano Concerto, the earliest work here, exudes the sort of spiky Finno-Russian neoclassicism that we find in Englund and Shostakovich, but from the Second Piano Concerto on Rautavaara is very much his own man, and every one of these pieces, even the relatively gnarly concertos for organ and double bass, are well worth getting to know. Several strike me as flat-out masterpieces, including the Second and Third Piano Concertos, the Violin Concerto, the Harp Concerto, and of course Cantus Arcticus for taped birds and orchestra.

Furthermore, the performances are all first rate, from Ralf Gothóni and Vladimir Ashkenazy in the piano concertos, to Elmar Oliveira, Richard Stolzman, and Patrick Gallois in the concertos for violin, clarinet, and flute, respectively. The orchestral accompaniments leave nothing to be desired either, and the engineering is uniformly excellent. All of these works have appeared previously in Ondine's Rautavaara edition where many have been reviewed in detail at CT.com, but coupling them this way makes an ideal introduction to the composer and his special sound world. I just hope this set, which inevitably has a retrospective feel to it, doesn't mean that Rautavaara will not continue to produce symphonic works and concertos despite the ill-health he has suffered recently. By all means, indulge!

-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com

Product Description:

  • Release Date: August 25, 2009

  • Catalog Number: ODE1156-2Q

  • UPC: 761195115626

  • Label: Ondine

  • Number of Discs: 4

  • Composer: Einojuhani Rautavaara

  • Conductor: Juha Kangas, Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Leif Segerstam, Max Pommer, Vladimir Ashkenazy

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra, Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra

  • Performer: Elmar Oliveira, Esko Laine, Kari Jussila, Marielle Nordmann, Marko Ylönen, Patrick Gallois, Ralf Gothóni, Reija Bister, Richard Stoltzman, Vladimir Ashkenazy