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Hyperion Records

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Mystical Tree (1996) by Peter Davidson (d1999)
Private Collection / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67787
Recording details: March 2009
Exeter College Chapel, Oxford, United Kingdom
Produced by Adrian Peacock
Engineered by Andrew Mellor
Release date: January 2010
Total duration: 15 minutes 28 seconds

'From the vibrancy of the very first track, the lively imagination of Rautavaara's writing for voices, the pungent palette of the Schola Cantorum of Oxford, and the clarity and spacial excitement of this record, are immediately apparent' (BBC Music Magazine)

'The music may be as soft-centred as melting chocolate, but the performances have real fire and beauty' (The Irish Times)

Canción de nuestro tiempo
composer
1993; commissioned by the Tokyo Philharmonic Chorus; movement 3 is subtitled Nocturno del Sarajevo
author of text
Fragmentos de agonía from Ode a Walt Whitman; Meditación primera y última from La selva de los relojes

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
In the early 1990s the Tokyo Philharmonic Chorus commissioned Rautavaara to write an extensive choral work, specifying that the text and music were to ‘have a relationship to the world of today’. The result was the Canción de nuestro tiempo (1993), for which Rautavaara chose poems by Federico García Lorca which, though written in the 1920s and 1930s, he felt were still very relevant.

The first of the work’s three movements, Fragmentos de agonía (‘Fragments of agony’), shows the harsh, inhuman world of industrial society and war through surrealist poetic images. The mechanical ostinato progresses inexorably; the parallel with the opening of the Suite de Lorca, written two decades earlier to a text by the same poet, is clear. Finally, the moon rises (echoing another passage in the Suite de Lorca). The musical material here is derived from the same twelve-tone row as Rautavaara’s Seventh Symphony and Die erste Elegie.

Meditación primera y última (‘First and last meditation’) is built on a recurring Rautavaara device: a mid-range sound field with superimposed melodies. The material here is adapted from a scene in the opera Thomas, and Rautavaara later orchestrated it for his Eighth Symphony. The sound-field device appears in more organized form in Canticum Mariae virginis, and also in the more extensive Katedralen.

In Ciudad sin sueño (‘Sleepless city’), Rautavaara so strongly identified the powerful imagery of the poem with the then current situation in world politics that he subtitled the movement Nocturno del Sarajevo. The opening of the movement, with piercing cries over a steady pulsation, is very similar to that of Die erste Elegie. The melodic material in the soprano part progresses largely in parallel fourths and is flavoured with small glissandos. Despite the ‘nocturno’ character, there are passionate outbursts and powerful emotions in the music.

from notes by Jaakko Mäntyjärvi © 2010

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