BBC Music Magazine 5 stars; Classics Today 10/10, Disc of the Month; Fono Forum: Stern des Monats; Gramophone: Editor's Choice; Klassik Heute 10/10/10.
Einojuhani Rautavaara, the grand old man of Finnish music, became instantly famous when his 7th Symphony, Angel of Light (BIS-CD- 1038), became a great success in Europe and the USA. The composer’s highly individual mix of modernism, mystical romanticism and love of the natural world has struck a deep chord with the audiences, and what in a Gramophone review of a recent disc of his songs (BIS-CD-1141) was called “Rautavaara’s genius as a communicator” will be obvious in the present programme too.
The composer, in his own liner notes, writes about Symphony No.8 ‘The Journey’: “Composed in the last year of the twentieth century, it might be described as a parallel process to the passage of time; to be a journey through the century – not a programmatic illustration, but a similar journey through time and through the world.” The Violin Concerto is an earlier work, from the end of the 1970s, the exuberant ending of which was inspired by the fact that it was composed in New York: “when from my studio window I saw the Downtown skyscrapers, with their thousands of windows in which lights were switched on and off incessantly through the day and night, when I heard Fifth Avenue’s constantly changing, unending current of sound, I knew that the violin solo had to live its last moments passionately, persistently piercing the orchestral texture right to the end.”
The two scores are in the more than capable hands of Osmo Vänskä and his Lahti Symphony Orchestra. Famed for their interpretations of Sibelius’s music, the team has also had great success with the works of more modern compatriots such as Joonas Kokkonen and Kalevi Aho. Jaakko Kuusisto, the soloist in the violin concerto, will be familiar to all BIS followers for his recordings of the chamber music of Sibelius, as well as for his acclaimed performance of the solo violin part in Kalevi Aho’s Third Symphony (BIS-CD-1186).
Some press voices:
“Jubel, Verzückung, reinste Thronmystik in Tönen... Schlichtweg vollkommen diese CD!“ Fono Forum October 2004
"Jaakko Kuusisto ... meistert virtuose Eruptionen ebenso souverän wie traumverlorene Kantilenen... Ein berauschendes Hörerlebnis" Klassik Heute
„Le tandem Kuusisto-Vänskä atteint un état de grâce et convainc définitivement l'auditeur de l'importance de cette oeuvre dans le répertoire pour violon et orchestre du XXe siècle.“ ClassicstodayFrance.com
“Superb sonics add the finishing touch to this excellent release.” Classicstoday.com