EINOJUHANI RAUTAVAARA (1928-2016): Cello Sonatas Nos. 1 and 2, Sonata for Solo Cello, 2 Preludes and Fugues, Song of My Heart, Polska for 2 Cellos and Piano.

Catalogue Number: 02T053

Label: Ondine

Reference: ODE 1310-2

Format: CD

Price: $16.98

Description: These works mostly belong to a relatively early stage of Rautavaara's compositional development, and all have neo-romantic or neoclassical elements. The Preludes and Fugues were originally a student work, completed much later with the addition of the cello solo Preludes. The 1955 fugues are very neoclassical, and are based on musical 'monograms' constructed from the names of Einar Englund and Bartók, which reveals something of the student composer's influences at the time. The 1972-3 First Sonata, in a single span that clearly divides into a conventional movement structure, is very Romantic and tonal, though at the first movement's passionate climax the piano part erupts into clusters. Singing melody is important in the work, which follows a finely judged dramatic arc through an introverted slow movement and a lively finale with a gentle recapitulation of the opening material as a coda. The four-movement Solo Sonata is clearly influenced by Bach throughout, though with a greater suggestion of Romantic harmony in the later movements. The Second Sonata was started around the same time as the First, but was completed much later, in 1991. The three-movement work is significantly more modern and dissonant than the First, emotionally darker and more complex. It even contains very limited experiments in dodecaphony and aleatory, though neither is apparent to the ear. The first movement is intense and dramatic, the second a scurrying, driven scherzo, while the finale with a more relaxed, lyrical mood seems to suggest a more romanticism-based resolution to the drama of the earlier movements. Polska is a lively encore in the form of variations with a scherzo diabolico character on a folk song, and Song is a lovely, melancholy arrangement of an aria from Rautavaara's opera Aleksis Kivi. Tanja Tetzlaff (cello), Gunilla Süssmann (piano).

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