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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great stuff
I've listened to this concerto many times now and I'm concvinced it's one of Rautavaara's best scores. The piano writing is idiosyncratic and certainly doesn't break any new ground, but does it need to? And what should a Piano Concerto be? The form of this piece is beautifully realised, with a subtlety and ease that bears comparison to Debussy, and is its strongest...
Published on April 24, 2002 by andrew john raiskums

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21 of 37 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Sounds without substance
After repeated listening to both the concerto and the Autumn Gardens, my personal response is I wish there were more music in the music. In the recorded interview, Ashkenazy sounds like a polite but clearly disappointed buyer trying to glean any bit of insight the composer might give to this empty effort. But, Rautavaara talks around it and attempts to cloak the lack...
Published on May 27, 2000 by A. Egigian


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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great stuff, April 24, 2002
This review is from: Rautavaara: Piano Concerto No. 3: Gift of Dreams / Autumn Gardens (Audio CD)
I've listened to this concerto many times now and I'm concvinced it's one of Rautavaara's best scores. The piano writing is idiosyncratic and certainly doesn't break any new ground, but does it need to? And what should a Piano Concerto be? The form of this piece is beautifully realised, with a subtlety and ease that bears comparison to Debussy, and is its strongest feature. The initial motive, that Rautavaara explains is actually a quote from another piece, is haunting and memorable and seems to generate the whole work. And in a funny way, the spectre of Rachmaninov seems to hover over the music, which may well have something to do with Ashkenazy comissioning the piece. The concerto is in three movements. The first movement begins with soft slow-moving string chords that linger over the principle motive. The mood is broken by a propulsive, almost violent idea in the piano that rises up and gradually subsides. As the movement progresses we become aware that it is shaped in a long arch, the music taking us back to where we began. The second movement is the heart of the work; containing some of Rautavaara's most searching and poetic music. It begins like a dream, with ideas from the first movement recollected. The mood however soon becomes unsettled and the music moves through a whole range of emotions; hope, expectation, anger, despair, resignation....... The reprise of the opening, when it eventually comes, is absolutely ravishing, a magic moment indeed. The pent-up energy in the first two movements is unleashed in the third movement, the music building steadily to an intense and enigmatic conclusion. Ashkenazy explains that he wanted to be able to play and also conduct the concerto. Perhaps because of this there are a couple of moments of less-than-perfect ensemble but Ashkenazy always plays beautifully and he obviously believes very strongly in the piece.
Autumn Gardens is outwardly more descriptive music, but no less intense and poetic, and beautifully scored too. I prefer the Concerto but that's just me. Both of these pieces are wonderful and deserve to be heard. And don't be put off by the interview at the end of the disc- both these men deserve to be heard too!
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Vintage Rautavaara, nicely played, May 18, 2000
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This review is from: Rautavaara: Piano Concerto No. 3: Gift of Dreams / Autumn Gardens (Audio CD)
This CD has three parts: the piano concerto, the "Autumn Gardens", and a 13 minute conversation between Rautavaara and Vladimir Ashkenazy. The latter, although interesting, is not something I'd want to listen to more than a time or two. So, we are left with a CD containing about 54 minutes of music.Hence, my rating of four stars rather than the five the music and performances themselves deserve.
But, what music! If you like the ecstatic Rautavaara, this will suit you. The Piano Concerto, written for Ashkenazy and played and conducted by him, subtitled "Gift of Dreams", never shouts but rises to several points of exultation. "Autumn Gardens" is a three-movement suite, the first two movements played without pause. Almost as a surprise, the third movement, designated "giocoso e leggiero" comes as a brisk, gentle counterpoise to the autumnal mood of what came before. Then it fades into a lovely, stately sarabande, ending nobly, like, as T. S. Eliot wrote, "late roses filled with early snow."
The performances and recording are exemplary.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful music., June 26, 2000
This review is from: Rautavaara: Piano Concerto No. 3: Gift of Dreams / Autumn Gardens (Audio CD)
This music is difficult to describe. I will throw a few cliched words at you: beautiful, contemplative, but with energy and direction while seeming to wander... confusing? I suppose so, but Rautavaara's voice is unique and artistic. The music is full of light unlike many other nordic composers, and lyricism of a very sophisticated nature. This is music which did not follow Stravinsky's rhythmic innovations, instead daring to weave super-complex melody and line submerged in spare, taught harmony. The color is often monochromatic but the texture is very deep.
I enjoyed this CD on my first listening and continue to enjoy the music as it is not all flash and pattern.
Now, if only my local Orchestra (Portland Symphonic) would get off their a$$es and play some contemporary music... sheesh this CD is proof there can be meaningful music that challenges the listener without frightening away the old batty matrons of the board of directors who think Beetoven is a riot and enfent terrible.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Two impressive works from Rautavaara's later period, February 20, 2012
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This review is from: Rautavaara: Piano Concerto No. 3: Gift of Dreams / Autumn Gardens (Audio CD)
I was tempted to write "more of the same from Rautavaara," and in a sense it is - those who know the Finnish composer already will know exactly what to expect from this release containing his third piano concerto and the tone poem Autumn Gardens. I cannot even claim that either counts among Rautavaara's best works (though I notice that some listeners disagree). Nevertheless, these are both good, often even captivating works, written in Rautavaara's lush, neo-romantic, tonal, and indeed personal - sufficiently so for the music to be instantly recognizable - style. The music is deeply felt, shimmering, opulent, yet there is nothing cliché or kitchy about it; both works are serious, profound, and command concentrated attention.

The third piano concerto was written for Ashkenazy and is subtitled "Gift of Dreams" (yes, the title is silly; just forget about it). The first movement is based on a chordal rows presented by the strings and picked up, with variations and embellishments, by the piano. The music soon gathers momentum through a series of imaginative episodes and ever increasing concentration and urgency. Despite its passionate, heart-on-sleeve nature and almost overwrought textures, the architecture is clear and the argument unfolds with a sense of inevitability. The overall mood is retained throughout the work, and although it may be a little too much for some, Rautavaara does undeniably manage to build up to a rather harrowing - albeit quiet - culmination in the third movement.

Autumn Gardens is a tone poem inspired by and depicting the beauty and wonders of nature. It is generally meditative in nature and although it shares the concerto's sound world it is overall more lyrical and reflective, lacking the dynamism of the concerto but nevertheless thoroughly gorgeous. At 26 minutes (and three movements) it is certainly not shorter than it needs to be, and the material is not quite as inspired or memorable as in works like, say, On the Final Frontier or Isle of Bliss. Still, this is rewarding music, and no one can deny that the performances are more or less impeccable. Ashkenazy's Rachmaninov-like, at times almost desperate-sounding and blood curdling handling of the solo part in the concerto is very effective, and the orchestral playing is rich, clear and powerful. The sound is good as well, and in sum this is a recommendable release, even if none of the music may be quite as compelling as, say, the seventh symphony or the (for the composer relatively short) tone poem Isle of Bliss.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Historic, March 9, 2007
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This review is from: Rautavaara: Piano Concerto No. 3: Gift of Dreams / Autumn Gardens (Audio CD)
The music of this cd is very interesting. I liked too much the conversation between pianist and composer.
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21 of 37 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Sounds without substance, May 27, 2000
By 
A. Egigian (Redondo Beach, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Rautavaara: Piano Concerto No. 3: Gift of Dreams / Autumn Gardens (Audio CD)
After repeated listening to both the concerto and the Autumn Gardens, my personal response is I wish there were more music in the music. In the recorded interview, Ashkenazy sounds like a polite but clearly disappointed buyer trying to glean any bit of insight the composer might give to this empty effort. But, Rautavaara talks around it and attempts to cloak the lack of musical substance in some sort of spiritual argument. Good try at a save, but the sales pitch quickly dissipates when you go back to the music and just listen to what was written. I don't begrudge a composer making a good living, but I hope that Mr. Ashkenazy didn't pay a great deal for this concerto.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars More late Rautavaara, music of even beautiful textures that one quickly discovers are void of content, April 5, 2008
By 
Christopher Culver (Cluj-Napoca, Romania or Helsinki, Finland) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Rautavaara: Piano Concerto No. 3: Gift of Dreams / Autumn Gardens (Audio CD)
The Finnish composer Rautavaara has been writing the same piece over and over again for the last several decades. His work consists of little more than long triads over a pedal point in the strings, along with a few clusters here and there, but no real development. He tends to hide the lack of substance in his music by ascribing it mystical programming, claiming it is evocative of angels or whatnot and that he channels it from some other source. This has unfortunately attracted public interest, but upon further listening the buyer is sure to regret the purchase. This 2000 disc of performances pianist and conductor Vladimir Ashkenazy and the Helsinki Philharmonic are quite represenative of the complete vacuity of Rautavaara's late music.

The Piano Concerto No. 3 "Gift of Dreams" (1998) was written for Ashkenazy to simultaneously perform and conduct. It must have been quite a disappoint for this virtuoso and champion of great reperotire to be the dedicatee of a work with such a generic and unchanging orchestral part, and a solo part consisting of little more than ascending and descending scales.

"Autumn Gardens" for orchestra (1999) shows another tendency of the late Rautavaara, building one substance-less piece out of material from an earlier such one. This three-movement work is based on a motif from his opera The House of the Sun. However, you'd have a hard time telling this apart from any other late orchestral work of his, whether it be "Isle of Bliss", "Garden of Spaces", "Book of Visions", "Adagio Celeste", etc.

The disc is filled-out by a 13-minute conversation between Vladimir Ashkenazy and Einojuhani Rautavaara about the composition of the Piano Concerto No 3. I agree with my fellow reviewer that Ashkenazy sounds rather unhappy with the whole thing, and Rautavaara's long explanations of a piece so short on substance is ridiculous to listen to. Incidentally, on Ondine's DVD with Rautavaara's television opera "Gift of the Magi" (not released in the U.S. but available from Finland), there's an extra documentary showing Ashkenazy and Rautavaara writing the piece, and one gets from that a more palpable feeling that Ashkenazy wanted more than he got.

In my opinion, fans of contemporary music should seek out only two of Rautavaara's works. The first is the Symphony No. 3, where a peculiar application of twelve-tone serialism surprisingly results in the greatest symphony Bruckner never wrote. The other work is Cantus Arcticus, a gimmicky but entertaining enough fusion of taped birdsong and sinfonietta. Both can be had at budget price on Naxos disc. The rest of his oeuvre is generally disappointing, and even the pieces like these that are not appallingly empty are average at best.
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5 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars well rats, June 27, 2000
This review is from: Rautavaara: Piano Concerto No. 3: Gift of Dreams / Autumn Gardens (Audio CD)
I wrote another review put it appears to have been lost, nevermind, the rating should speak for itself. lovely music.
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