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Rautavaara: Summer Thoughts- Works for Violin & Piano

4.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Audio CD, June 28, 2011
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Product Details

  • Performer: Pekka Kuusisto, Pavali Jumppanen
  • Composer: Einojuhani Rautavaara
  • Audio CD (June 28, 2011)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Ondine
  • ASIN: B004YP3TY6
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #414,800 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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By Daniel R. Coombs on July 11, 2011
Format: Audio CD
Many people already know the great Finnish composer Einojuhani Rautavaara for his large scale works; the operas, symphonies and choral works. This wonderful collection of his solo violin work illustrates that his trademark soaring long line melodies and ethereal harmonies that unfold slowly can be found in his intimate work as well. The "familiar" Rautavaara, like in "Angels of Light" for example, can be heard in the beautiful four movement "Lost Landscapes", each movement representing a place with personal meaning both to the composer and also to the violinist, Midori, for whom it was written. Similarly, the flow and beauty of "April Lines" is stunning as is "Dithyrambos" - a work containing reflection and beauty as well as some dynamic motion. These works alone are truly among the best contemporary pieces for violin and piano I have heard. The brief "Summer Thoughts" is a reworking of some early work and makes a nice, albeit "darker" addition to this program. The melodies are lower and the chords a little more modal and minor oriented. Rautavaara's "Nottorno e danza" makes a similar strong impression. Beginning in a characteristically floating and ethereal way, the "dance" half makes for a strong, bouyant conclusion. The inclusion of Rautavaara's 'The Fiddlers' is almost a bonus on this disc. The piano suite "Pelimannit" is based on six different Finnish folk tunes as heard on by country "fiddlers" In this recording, soloist Pekka Kuusisto plays each of the original melodies individually, followed by the piano movement in the suite upon which the tune is based. In a way, this piece seems light and a bit out of character compared to the rest of the music, showing Rautavaara's versatility and talent. This is a terrific recording.Read more ›
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Rautavaara is better known for his large-scale works, but here is a more intimate side of his work, that may be new even to those who have heard his bigger pieces. Big or little, though, it's all one: here you will find the same contemporary romanticism, beautiful throughout and finely balanced on the edge of tonality, rhythm, and harmonic progression, for which this great Finnish composer is so justly celebrated. The performers, Pekka Kuusisto on violin and Paavali Jumppanen on piano, are really great. I hope that many more duos will take this music up, because it deserves a wide audience, but in another way I think that this initial recording will be very hard to beat. It's beautiful music, sound, and performance. Don't hesitate to buy it!
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Format: Audio CD
Though Einojuhani Rautavaara is mainly known for large-scale orchestral canvases, he has written some chamber music has well which has not had such wide exposure. Ondine's 2011 release SUMMER THOUGHTS documents works for violin and piano, performed by Pekka Kuusisto and Paavali Jumppanen.

Throughout his career, Rautavaara has tended to fulfill new commissions by rearranging older materials*. That was the case with his popular Symphony No. 7 "Angel of Light", whose third movement is but an orchestration of the first part of "Notturno e danza" for violin and piano (1993). This is what intrigued me most about this disc, and it is remarkable how the lushness of this music is present in the original for two instruments, and not due to the manner of orchestration.

"Notturno e danza" and the symphony it led to are examples of Rautavaara's late style, tending to be a endless succession of triads with some tone clusters through in, a continual soaring quality, and little contrast between movements or even pieces. It all very seductive on the first listen, but one may soon start to lose interest and feel that this composer is something of a ripoff. That's very much the case with "Lost Landscapes" (2005), four movements titled after places Rautavaara lived -- he has become quite nostalgic in his old age. However, "Tanglewood", "Ascona", "Reinergasse 11, Vienna" and "West 23rd St., NY" don't really evoke these different communities, and they sound very similar except for tempo changes. "Summer Thoughts" for violin (1972/2008) and "April Lines (1970/2006)" are other examples of this samey late style.

When we go further back in time, Rautavaara's music is less fluffy, somewhat more astringent and more interested in rigorous development.
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