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Rautavaara: Angels and Visita

Elmar Oliveira (Violin); Helsi Audio CD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 21.59 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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1. Angels And Visitations: Violin Concerto: Tranquillo
2. Angels And Visitations: Violin Concerto: Energico
3. Angels And Visitations: Isle Of Bliss
4. Angels And Visitations

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great introduction to Rautavaara's sound world. Nov. 10 2000
Format:Audio CD
Rautavaara is a modern composer accessible to anyone, but without sacrificing musical interest. The three compositions on this disc are a good introduction to his work. The closest "big name" musical kin I can think of would be Sibelius, but Rautavaara's work is more mystical in conception. He is very much his own composer, and his musical personality is well represented here.
The violin concerto is more overtly dramatic than many of Rautavaara's compositions, but never vulgar, and the solo part is played with beauty and fire by Elmar Oliveira.
"Isle of Bliss" is an orchestral fantasia lasting just a little over 11 minutes. After a strong beginning it goes a bit formless in the middle (somewhat of a weak point with this composer; he tends to sag a bit structurally at times) but masterfully evokes a strong sense of atmosphere throughout. Listening to it, I felt as though I was walking the chilly, rocky coastline of a secluded island, and as it turns out a remote Baltic Sea island was the composer's inspiration for the piece (as he himself explains in the excellent booklet notes).
"Angels and Visitations" is another work in this composer's self-titled "Angel Series," but as usual it's no new-age orchestral puff piece. As he explains in the booklet, it was inspired by a terrible recurring dream he had as a child. It stirs up a strong sense of drama, effectively mixing beauty, terror and awe throughout its nearly 20-minute length.
Not quite an hour of music, excellently recorded as is usually the case with Ondine. Leif Segerstam obviously believes in this music and leads the orchestra through some of the most effective Rautavaara performances on record. I play this one often and would recommend it to anyone interested in Rautavaara or in approachable, interesting new music.
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3.0 out of 5 stars "Angels and Visitations" not bad at all... Dec 15 1999
By A Customer
Format:Audio CD
Although I have many reservations about "Angel of Light" (Rautavaara's Seventh Symphony), I have none whatsoever about "Angels and Visitations", the title work of this CD. It's a very well constructed 19 minute tone poem which was inspired by a nightmare that the composer experienced multiple times. It's a truly beautiful and creative piece of music. Rautavaara is a master of orchestration, of course. But what strikes me the most about "Angels and Visitations" is its absolutely flawless musical narrative -- how motives are developed and juxtaposed, and how textures grow from one another or are transformed. And it has none of the excessive (sentimental, I dare say) sweetness of the Seventh Symphony -- I don't think that would be a proper response to a nightmare! Indeed, "Angels and Visitations" is really quite gritty in some passages. Rautavaara's own liner notes refer to Rilke's famous phrase "Every angel is terrifying" -- which is also a great description of this piece, especially when one remembers another idea from Rilke's Duino Elegies: that beauty is only the beginning terror. The other pieces on this disc are not quite as gripping to me. The violin concerto is certainly very lively and an effective showpiece for the soloist, but it doesn't quite hold my interest. The most recent work on his disc, "Isle of Bliss" is rather too close to the sentimental world of the Seventh Symphony for me -- the beginning is rather commonplace (almost like dated film music), and the main body of the work is too uneventful for me. Thus, I can't rate this disc higher since only one work out of the three in this disc really holds my interest.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great! Dec 29 1999
By A Customer
Format:Audio CD
The violin concerto is a very energetic and interesting work. Very lovely and myserious at points as well. Brilliant orchestration. Angels and Visitions, also the title of the CD, is an almost impressionistic work, and is superb. All in all highly recommended-5 stars.
Was this review helpful to you?
5.0 out of 5 stars Great! Dec 29 1999
By A Customer
Format:Audio CD
The violin concerto is a very energetic and interesting work. Very lovely and myserious at points as well. Brilliant orchestration. Angels and Visitions, also the title of the CD, is an almost impressionistic work, and is superb. All in all highly recommended-5 stars.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great introduction to Rautavaara's sound world. Nov. 10 2000
By Ed Brickell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Rautavaara is a modern composer accessible to anyone, but without sacrificing musical interest. The three compositions on this disc are a good introduction to his work. The closest "big name" musical kin I can think of would be Sibelius, but Rautavaara's work is more mystical in conception. He is very much his own composer, and his musical personality is well represented here.
The violin concerto is more overtly dramatic than many of Rautavaara's compositions, but never vulgar, and the solo part is played with beauty and fire by Elmar Oliveira.
"Isle of Bliss" is an orchestral fantasia lasting just a little over 11 minutes. After a strong beginning it goes a bit formless in the middle (somewhat of a weak point with this composer; he tends to sag a bit structurally at times) but masterfully evokes a strong sense of atmosphere throughout. Listening to it, I felt as though I was walking the chilly, rocky coastline of a secluded island, and as it turns out a remote Baltic Sea island was the composer's inspiration for the piece (as he himself explains in the excellent booklet notes).
"Angels and Visitations" is another work in this composer's self-titled "Angel Series," but as usual it's no new-age orchestral puff piece. As he explains in the booklet, it was inspired by a terrible recurring dream he had as a child. It stirs up a strong sense of drama, effectively mixing beauty, terror and awe throughout its nearly 20-minute length.
Not quite an hour of music, excellently recorded as is usually the case with Ondine. Leif Segerstam obviously believes in this music and leads the orchestra through some of the most effective Rautavaara performances on record. I play this one often and would recommend it to anyone interested in Rautavaara or in approachable, interesting new music.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great! Dec 29 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
The violin concerto is a very energetic and interesting work. Very lovely and myserious at points as well. Brilliant orchestration. Angels and Visitions, also the title of the CD, is an almost impressionistic work, and is superb. All in all highly recommended-5 stars.
17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "Angels and Visitations" not bad at all... Dec 15 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Although I have many reservations about "Angel of Light" (Rautavaara's Seventh Symphony), I have none whatsoever about "Angels and Visitations", the title work of this CD. It's a very well constructed 19 minute tone poem which was inspired by a nightmare that the composer experienced multiple times. It's a truly beautiful and creative piece of music. Rautavaara is a master of orchestration, of course. But what strikes me the most about "Angels and Visitations" is its absolutely flawless musical narrative -- how motives are developed and juxtaposed, and how textures grow from one another or are transformed. And it has none of the excessive (sentimental, I dare say) sweetness of the Seventh Symphony -- I don't think that would be a proper response to a nightmare! Indeed, "Angels and Visitations" is really quite gritty in some passages. Rautavaara's own liner notes refer to Rilke's famous phrase "Every angel is terrifying" -- which is also a great description of this piece, especially when one remembers another idea from Rilke's Duino Elegies: that beauty is only the beginning terror. The other pieces on this disc are not quite as gripping to me. The violin concerto is certainly very lively and an effective showpiece for the soloist, but it doesn't quite hold my interest. The most recent work on his disc, "Isle of Bliss" is rather too close to the sentimental world of the Seventh Symphony for me -- the beginning is rather commonplace (almost like dated film music), and the main body of the work is too uneventful for me. Thus, I can't rate this disc higher since only one work out of the three in this disc really holds my interest.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great! Dec 29 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
The violin concerto is a very energetic and interesting work. Very lovely and myserious at points as well. Brilliant orchestration. Angels and Visitions, also the title of the CD, is an almost impressionistic work, and is superb. All in all highly recommended-5 stars.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An attractive and in fact rather variegated program from a composer who risks sounding samey May 20 2011
By G.D. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Rautavaara has sometimes been accused of writing the same work over and over again. In fact, his style has run through a wide variety of styles from the avant-garde to the post-romantic and neo-tonal, but one thing that seems to run through his output, however, is the shining, opulent but still clear orchestration (often giving the impression of moving clusters of sound), and the intense lyricism. Still, no one can deny (I think) that the disc at hand contains a rather variegated program, representing some of the best and most characteristic works of Rautavaara's various compositional styles, and despite some similarities the sound worlds of the violin concerto and the symphonic poem Isle of Bliss are worlds apart.

The violin concerto in two movements dates from 1977. The first movement is meditative, quiet and shimmering with the solo part often soaring skywards to bleakly cold heights. It is contrasted by a turbulent, uneasy second movement containing more than a nod toward Sibelius. It is a modern-sounding work, more urbane than some of the composer's work but still with a kind of dreamlike, pastoral quality to it. Elmar Oliveira is an extremely compelling soloist throughout, with a wonderful violin tone and superb backing by the Helsinki Philharmonic under Segerstam.

The orchestra does an even better job with the tone poem Isle of Bliss (1995); not only is this work written in Rautavaara's familiar, lushly, lyrical, neo-tonal style - it may very well be his most tuneful work, as well as one of his most striking. It is something of an opulent, surging stream of kaleidoscopic colors, birdsong, atmospheres and evocative tone-painting. It would make for an excellent, accessible introduction to the composer's later style. Angels and Visitations is less immediately striking (although I do see that other reviewers disagree). Stylistically it stands as a bridge between the other two works on the disc, full of lush clustery textures and dramatic effects, overlaid with a dreamy haze and borne up by a dramatic undercurrent. Still, it sounds a little wayward in its intensity, and I am less sure it really adds up to that much. Again, the performances are first-rate and the recorded sound is very good. Recommended, particularly for the Isle of Bliss although the concerto is a valuable addition to the repertoire as well.
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