Rautavaara, as is well known, is one of many tonal, neo-romantic contemporary composers, but that said, his music is more original and inventive than most (although, as another reviewer here points out, his style has a limited range - I wouldn't want to listen through a "complete Rautavaara"). And if you don't know his music already, I suppose this is a very good place to start, although nothing here is quite as striking as his third or seventh symphony or the symphonic poem Isle of Bliss. The shadow of Sibelius is heavy over Anadyomene (1968) with its gradual swellings of orchestral energy, radiant textures and dense polyphony surging upwards in magnificent, lush crescendos, and while it is, again, perhaps no masterpiece, it is an impressive score, well worth getting acquainted with.
The flute concerto, Dances with the winds (1975) is an inventive work in which the soloist is required to alternate between four different instruments, always engaging and subtly varied, and throughout which the flutist also alternates between leading the orchestra and engaging in dialogues with it. It is written on a rather large scale, but Rautavaara is able to keep the listener's interest sustained through the various interesting twists and turns. It certainly also helps that it receives such an impressive performance as it does by Patrick Gallois, slightly superior to the BIS version (which might overall still be a more easily recommendable introduction to the composer). On the Last Frontier is a large fantasy for chorus and orchestra dating from 1997 and is probably the most impressive work on the disc, exhibiting many of the same virtues as Anadyomene, though more mystical and otherwordly-sounding in its shimmering textures driven along on strong, deep undercurrents. It does, however, also has more forward momentum than the earlier work.
Throughout all three works the Helsinki Philharmonic under Leif Segerstam are absolutely excellent, displaying a deep understanding and affection for the music The sound quality is spacious and big with lots of detail and presence. So to sum up, this is a quite excellent disc - not, perhaps, containing any masterpieces or works that will alter the course of musical history, but engaging and appealing ones nonetheless.