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Vigilia

4.0 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Audio CD, May 19, 1998
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Editorial Reviews

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Occasionally called Finland's resident mystic, Einojuhani Rautavaara is lots more than that. He's a true musical polyglot, and his music runs the gamut from 12-tone to lyrical, to - in this work - just the right ancient tone, with very modern harmonies, rhythms and vocal acrobatics which do not seem out of place. And the overriding sense one gets in this work devoted to St John the Baptist is the same one might feel sitting in an ancient cathedral, smelling incense while robed members of the congregation, choir and clergy file past. It's gorgeous, really, and broken into two 1/2 hour sections it's just right for listening and wondering. And the recording is amazingly rich and present. Try it, you'll like it. Robert Levine
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 19, 1998)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Ondine
  • ASIN: B0000064AJ
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #52,855 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
The Finnish Radio Chamber Choir consists of some of Finland's finest singers, and they have made a strong case in recent years for Rautavaara's sacred music. On this outstanding CD, they present a concerted version of his settings for the Orthodox Vigil and Mattins services. Those of you who know Rachmaninov's similar settings (especially if through the recordings by the Corydon Singers or King's College Choir) will find this disc a must-have: it is a thoroughly engrossing counterpart to those works, albeit in the Finnish language and with all the subtle nuances of the Finnish Orthodox Church. To those who have never before encountered the Orthodox Vigil, this should still provide a most rewarding hour of listening, as Rautavaara reveals the height of his skill as a composer through the medium of unaccompanied vocal music. He clearly understands how the voice works and exploits all sorts of different singing techniques in the music to magical (if sometimes eerie) effect. Particular examples include the use of a female semi-chorus that chants the Hymn to the Mother of God in toneless whispers whilst the male voices drone and a soprano soloist sings the words above them; also, there are several solo passages such as the opening tenor solo which use microtones. Rautavaara even shows the same healthy respect for Orthodox musical traditions as Rachmaninov, Stravinsky and Tavener- specifically, in the inner section of the "Psalm of Invocation," which uses controlled but wild-sounding glissandi for full chorus, thereby 'quoting' an element of Byzantine music.
With 24 singers and four immaculate soloists, Timo Nuoranne conducts the two services with sensitivity and brilliance.
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Format: Audio CD
Rautavaara's Vigilia is certainly his choral masterpiece, capitalizing on his rather ecclectic style by presenting a unified work reflecting the composer's mystical worldview combining European modernism with byzantine orthodoxy. This disc is the finest recorded by the Finnish Radio Chamber Choir. Choir and soloists are superb. Timo Nuoranne's shaping of this lengthy, "all-night" service captivated me; when I first heard the disc I was immediately drawn into the sound world created, and listened to it three times in succession.

Lovers of contemporary Finnish music might want to know that on 14 October 2004, the Finnish Broadcasting Company announced they will abolish the Radio Chamber Choir after the 2004-2005 season. The Chamber Choir was founded in 1961 and has premiered nearly 100 works.
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Format: Audio CD
I bought Vigilia after hearing an excerpt on a television biography of Rautavaara. The 24 Finnish Radio Chamber Choir singers, along with their 4 fine soloists, give a wonderful performance. The music could be called the modern equivilant of a Bach chorale - it is full of wonderful vocal and harmonic effects which go very well with the words, and when you hear it you feel like your surroundings have dissolved, and there is a single bright light ahead, and you are in the presence of God.

Some of my favourite tracks on the CD: No. 3 "1st Katisma", with its grand "Halleluyah" with stirring harmonies; No. 8 "Ekteniya" which begins with constantly growing chords of diatonic 2nds building to a climax; No. 11 "Sticheron" with soprano chords over a bass drone, and then vice versa; Nos. 14 and 34 "Final Blessing" which close off each section with contemplative and satisfying finish; and especially No. 33 "Troparion of the ressurrection" (containing material heard earlier), which contains a wide variety of effects; the grand melody near the end has a wonderful triumphant flavour.

Overall I strongly recommend this CD.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This setting of the Orthodox Vespers is challenging. It's rewarding if you give it several listenings, but initially, it might shock you. The whoops (uh, glissandos) and growling can be distracting. However, who said all music has to be melodic? This is definitely a signature piece and worth the time to get to know it.
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Format: Audio CD
Einojuhani Rautavaara wrote VIGILIA, his setting of the Orthodox vespers and matins service, in 1971 and 1972. The a capella work is musically quite varied, running from the Byzantine style which the Church has preserved to modernist features such as clusters and microtones.

Personally, I find this whole production offensive. The tradition of the Orthodox Church does not permit music as modern as Rautavaara's in liturgy. I'm no conservative who likes to trash new music, for I listen to Boulez and other Darmstadt figures daily, but for liturgical music there are rules. The Church also does it permit commissioning liturgical music from one not devout who approaches the task with prayer and the guidence of his spiritual father. Rautavaara even makes a appallingly anti-Orthodox statement in his liner notes (supporting the heresy of ecumenism). This might not bother listeners who just want to listen to the work as they would to any vocal writing, but for those who are mindful of the Orthodox tradition this is all deeply troubling.

Those wishing to hear Orthodox liturgical music in Finnish should seek out the disc LITURGIA where the Ortodoksinen kamarikuoro lead by Juhani Matsi perform. This was recorded at the New Valamo Monastery and reflects the beauty and truth of the Finnish Orthodox Church.
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