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Rautavaara’s infinity

" Could there be a better performance than what the Latvian Radio Choir and Sigvards Kļava are able to put on? Hardly. It is elegant and harmonically precise throughout. A few harsh-ish squeaks in the high voices, e.g. in the Sanctus of the Missa duodecanonica, don’t matter that much."

– Sacred Choral Works
Latvian Radio Choir, cond. Sigvards Kļava
Ondine ODE 1223-2

 A strong oceanic emotional appeal,  visceral at times, together  with a conscious ‘affinity for infinity’,  characterises all of Einojuhani  Rautavaara’s music. He is a true  neo-mystic composer – to use musicologist  Susanna Valimaki’s term  – whose creative work is first and  foremost a continuous search for  answers to metaphysical and existential  questions. A resulting downside  of this compositional approach  may be that one always pretty much  knows what to expect when listening  to a new Rautavaara work.   

Fortunately, as the present Ondine  release of Rautavaara’s sacred  choral music shows, that “what” is  never boring or banal. His recognisable  triad-seeking serialism runs  through from the early Ave Maria,  gratia plena to choral works of the  21st century (like Our Joyful’st Feast)  but for every composition he manages  to find an unexpected twist.  The main focus here is on the composer’s  recent Missa a cappella. You  can’t help being charmed by the  timeless beauty of this music. 

 Could there be a better performance  than what the Latvian Radio  Choir and Sigvards Kļava are  able to put on? Hardly. It is elegant  and harmonically precise throughout.  A few harsh-ish squeaks in the  high voices, e.g. in the Sanctus of  the Missa duodecanonica, don’t matter  that much.       

Juha Torvinen