Violinists have been well served by Rautavaara. As well as a full-scale violin concerto, written in the 1960s, the Finnish composer wrote several wonderful pieces for the instrument in the last decade of his life. It’s these later works that appear on this superbly recorded disc from Ondine, which includes two world premieres.

Einojuhani Rautavaara

The major one of these is Lost Landscapes, originally written as a violin and piano duo for Midori in 2005. It’s heard here in its orchestrated version of 2015, with Simone Lamsma as the soloist. Her playing is piercingly beautiful and emotionally acute, tapping into the seam of nostalgia that underpins the concerto’s four movements. Each was inspired by a different place from Rautavaara’s studies abroad: Tanglewood, USA; Ascona, Italy; Vienna, Austria; New York, USA. And with the Malmö Symphony Orchestra and conductor Robert Trevino matching Lamsma’s every colour shift and tonal nuance, it’s hard to imagine the piece in any other guise.

If there’s an astringent edge to some of the writing in Lost Landscapes, the album’s opener finds Rautavaara in full-blown neo-Romantic flow. The Fantasia (2015) has a rhapsodic quality worthy of Vaughan Williams, and Lamsma relishes its heady intensity. The Deux Sérénades lay incomplete at Rautavaara’s death in 2016, but they have been orchestrated and completed by fellow Finn Kalevi Aho. Here, the music enters more questing territory, enjoying a bittersweet undercurrent. 

Rautavaara’s last complete work was called In the Beginning, a title that nods to its purpose as a concert-opener yet also hints at more spiritual matters. Instantly, the orchestra opens up an atmospheric, brooding landscape, with swirling wind, evocative percussion, brass chorales and strings that shift like tectonic plates. As with the whole album, the playing is excellent. 

Available on Apple Music

Works: Works For Violin and Orchestra
Performers: Simone Lamsma , Malmö Symphony Orchestra, Robert Trevino
Label: Ondine ODE1405-2

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