“Rautavaara's First Symphony, written in 1955 in four movements, was recast in 1988 – not wholly convincingly – as a diptych. In 2003 Rautavaara added a new slow movement based on a song composed in the 1950s. The result is better balanced and Mikko Franck's account has considerable poise. Rautavaara's euphonious late style is perfectly adapted for visionary slow movements, so it may surprise that Adagio celeste (1997, given here in its 2000 version) is based on a 12-note row. More relevantly, it is derived from a sensuous romantic poem by Lassi Nummi: it is broadly languorous in tone with a strong undertow. Wonderfully subtle is an apt description for the four-movement Book of Visions (2003, rev 2005). Running to a full 40 minutes, the work superficially has a Henzian ground plan with its succession of four tales of 'Night', 'Fire', 'Love' and 'Fate'. However, its internal processes, while organic, have goals other than the symphonic and it calls to mind Lutospawski's Livrepour orchestre (however stylistically remote). Its emotional vision is the most intense of the works here, much of it autobiographical in essence. Franck proves a most sympathetic interpreter and draws fine playing from the National Orchestra of Belgium. Excellent sound.”
“The performances throughout are superbly played by this fine orchestra and, whether using two or four speakers, the sound is richly opulent, and in the demonstration bracket for its superb recording of the strings.”
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