Sydney Symphony Orchestra

Cantus arcticus – Concerto for birds and orchestra
Isle of Bliss
Symphony No.7, Angel of Light

Conducted by Benjamin Northey

Hand-picked by Sibelius for a scholarship to study composition in America, Einojuhani Rautavaara went on to define Finnish music of the 20th century. Over a lifetime, his music touched on seemingly disparate neoclassical and 12-tone serialist styles. Rautavaara reasoned: “If a composer writes exactly the same thing now as he did when he was 20 years old he is infantile, isn’t he? Something happens with a man in his life. And that must influence his creation, his writing.”

Rautavaara’s breakthrough work from 1972, Cantus arcticus, captures the majesty and vastness of the Arctic Circle in music for orchestra and recorded birdsong. It’s a hauntingly beautiful document-in-music of the eeriness, hostility and wonder of this frozen land. In this concert it’s followed by a sumptuous vision of an island paradise.

Angels have crowded the titles of Rautavaara’s works, a response to the memory of an angel-like creature that appeared to him in childhood. Though not religious, his interest was in the ability of music to open a window to another world. Angel of Light, his seventh symphony and the last in his angel series, is characterised by broad, sweeping melodies and represents the culmination of his rich stylistic syntheses.