Einojuhani Rautavaara (09.10.1928 – 27.07.2016) was one of the greatest Finnish composers of classical music since Jean Sibelius. His published output of works includes include eight symphonies, nine operas and twelve concertos, as well as numerous vocal and works for chamber ensembles. Rautavaara’s later music is best described as neo-romantic and mystical.
Rautavaara’s Symphony No. 7, subtitled Angel of Light, was commissioned by the Bloomington Symphony Orchestra, who gave the first performance of the work in 1995. The work is in four movements. In the caim first movement long surges are constructed which, however, as yet fail to lead to strong musical statements. Hence the boisterous, even wild nature of the quick second movement. At the end there is an aggressive dialogue in which the vibraphone and harp suggest a variation of the hymn motif, answered angrily by the trumpets and the whole orchestra. The situation seems to remain unresolved, and then we proceed without a break to the slow movement, a dream-like vision which ends with a songful violin solo in the upper register. The finale gets under way with brass chords, like columns, which gradually rise up higher and higher towards the light until, finally, the hymn theme resounds like a broad current flowing from the entire orchestra.
We have selected a performance, on the BIS label, performed by the Lahti Symphony Orchestra conducted by Osmo Vänskä. The CD, dating from 1999, comes state-of-the-art sound and it also includes an excellent performance of the Cantus Arcticus, Op. 61 (Concerto for Birds & Orchestra).