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David Vernier, February 2000

Choral enthusiasts—no, make that all lovers of beautiful, accessible, yet intellectually challenging and emotionally affecting music—put this on your list of absolutely must have discs. And, without running the risk of misrepresenting the music’s character one little bit, I assure you that you will be pleasantly surprised to find that these pieces have a profound spiritual depth not born of fashionable compositional or pseudo-ecclesiastical devices (think John Tavener here) but rather spring from impeccable technique—Rautavaara’s absolutely “right” instincts for text setting and choral timbre and texture, and from his incredibly vibrant, scintillating harmonic language. It helps to have the composer’s own notes that partially explain the works performed and briefly refer to his lifelong interest in “metaphysical and religious topics and texts.” If religion is defined as a “feeling for and affinity to infinity”, then, Rautavaara says, “I obviously am religious.”

…the Finnish Radio Chamber Choir once again amazes us with its superior technique, bright, richly colored tone, and knowing interpretive sense. This is wonderful stuff, and very difficult to sing—but it doesn’t have that pretentious, self-consciously complex manner that lesser composers sometimes use to lend (artificial) legitimacy to second-rate work.

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