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John Quinn
MusicWeb International, June 2017

…the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra plays marvellously. They are, I think, well versed in this composer’s music and it shows. The singing of the Helsinki Music Centre Choir is very fine while tenor Mika Pohjonen makes an excellent contribution in Balada. John Storgårds is an authoritative and sure-footed guide to these scores. © 2017 MusicWeb International Read complete review




Will Yeoman
Limelight, December 2016

The Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra under conductor John Storgårds is excellent throughout, and its fine string section are allowed to shine in Rautavaara’s lush Canto V, Into the Heart of Light—the only instrumental work on a highly attractive release which one can now also call a fitting tribute to one of the 20th century’s musical giants. © 2016 Limelight Read complete review



John Gilks
Opera Canada, November 2016

This recording throughout this very fine disc is clear and well balanced and full texts are provided in the original language, English and Finnish. © 2016 Opera Canada



Peter J. Rabinowitz
Fanfare, November 2016

…Finley is exceptional; the remaining performers are generally very good, too, …a poignant farewell to a great composer. © 2016 Fanfare Read complete review



Barry Brenesal
Fanfare, November 2016

The performances of the Helsinki Philharmonic are all one could ask for in lushness and clarity under the direction of John Storgårds, but I can’t help wishing at times that he’d propelled the composer’s typically ecstatic melodic muse forward with more energy and flexible phrasing. Gerald Finley is in excellent form—indeed, he could hardly be otherwise, and still negotiate Rautavaara’s lengthy lines with seeming ease. © 2016 Fanfare Read complete review



Joshua Rosenblum
Opera News, October 2016

John Storgårds provides rhapsodic accompaniment with the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra on all the vocal works; his ensemble truly shines in Into the Heart of Light (Canto V) for string orchestra, an exciting and probing instrumental piece that gives periodic glimpses of Rautavaara’s modernist chops. © 2016 Opera News Read complete review



Allen Gimbel
American Record Guide, September 2016

Listeners attracted to this great composer’s music will certainly want this beautifully performed music. © 2016 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide



Charles T. Downey
The Washington Post, August 2016

John Storgårds leads loving, informed performances by the Helsinki Philharmonic and Helsinki Music Center Choir. © 2016 The Washington Post Read complete review




Joshua Kosman
San Francisco Chronicle, August 2016

The finest work here is the lead-off entry, “Rubáiyát,” an orchestral song cycle from last year that sets verses from Omar Khayyam (in Edward FitzGerald’s classic English translation) to vivacious, darkly sensuous vocal lines. Bass-baritone Gerald Finley gives the piece a heroic performance, and conductor John Storgårds brings wonderful clarity to the orchestral interludes. Almost as gripping are four choral songs from Rautavaara’s final opera, “Rasputin,” which sound vibrant and sumptuous in performances by Helsinki Music Center Choir. © 2016 San Francisco Chronicle Read complete review



Grego Applegate Edwards
Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review, August 2016

…[this] is music that comes alive on close listening, well performed, perhaps not among Rautavaara’s primary masterworks, but a valuable addition to our knowledge and appreciation of the last period. © 2016 Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review Read complete review




Kate Molleson
The Guardian, June 2016

Canto V finds the Helsinki Phil sounding alert and committed under John Storgårds, the Helsinki choir gives it loudly behind spirited tenor Mika Pohjonen in the Balada, and Gerald Finley makes rousing stuff of Rubaiyat… © 2016 The Guardian Read complete review



Robert Tomas
The WholeNote, May 2016

The music shimmers and glistens, while creating quite a challenge for the voice—the almost continuous melodic lines, requiring circular breathing. …The rich mix of orchestral and vocal colour is intoxicating.

The young Finnish tenor, Mika Pohjonen and the Helsinki Music Centre Choir are perfect partners to Finley in this venture. © 2016 The WholeNote Read complete review




Infodad.com, May 2016

The Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra under John Storgårds has performed and recorded a considerable amount of Rautavaara’s music, always handling it with a sure sense of style and a strong commitment to the underlying emotional content that Rautavaara presents no matter what his stylistic preferences of the moment may be. This disc is no exception: it is well-played, well-sung and thoroughly convincing. © 2016 Infodad.com Read complete review




Rob Barnett
MusicWeb International, May 2016

[Gerald Finley’s] voice is clear yet lush of tone. He sings across an incessantly inventive and beckoning orchestral arioso. His enunciation is sharply focused and while his ‘line’ is usually independent of the accompaniment he puts across the poetry’s carpe diem philosophy with eloquence. © 2016 MusicWeb International Read complete review



Michael Scott Rohan
BBC Music Magazine, May 2016

Performance:
Recording:

Gerald Finley, expressive as ever, catches the shifting moods of hedonism and world-weary philosophy engagingly, his voice less swamped than in the piano version [Isle of Bliss].

 Altogether, well worth hearing. © 2016 BBC Music Magazine



David Denton
David's Review Corner, April 2016

Twenty-first century compositions from the Finnish composer, Einojuhani Rautavaara, who is still highly prolific deep into his octogenarian years. Working in the world of tonality, yet ever creative in the new and immediately engaging sounds we hear in Rubaiyat, a score commissioned by London’s Wigmore Hall for the baritone, Gerald Finley, the outstanding soloist on this new release. Taking its inspiration from the poems of Omar Khayyam, who the composer had promised himself to set to music almost sixty years earlier, the five poems are separated by four interludes that both connect and introduce the following poem. It was written for either piano or orchestral accompaniment, the latter version used on this world premiere recording. The previous year he had reshaped material originally intended for an opera that an illness prevented him taking past the first stage. The libretto had been a picture the life of the Spanish poet, Federico Garcia Lorca, its outcome becoming a cantata, Balada, for tenor, mixed chorus and orchestra. Continuous and lasting around seventeen minutes, it is attractively melodic, and with a dramatic central section in the poem dealing with death by stabbing, the score ending in unease as the person sails away in a boat with no means of propulsion. Describing Into the heart of Light, Rautavaara speaks of a small harmonic idea that seemed to take on a life of its own, the outcome often a highly charged work for strings completed in 2012, and lasting around thirteen minutes. In style it could have come from a previous era, and is not without English inclinations. From the same year comes ‘Four songs from the opera Rasputin,’ scored for mixed chorus and orchestra. They are all short and appear in the opera to create very differing moods, with an eruption in The day of vengeance. The performances, conducted by John Storgårds, are superb and perfectly complemented by the outstanding sound quality. © 2016 David’s Review Corner





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