Exceptional Sound Recording
Before the Icons stretches from one end of Rautavaara’s career to the other. The great composer would have celebrated his ninetieth birthday in the Spring of 2018. During his studies in New York, he wrote a small series called Six Icons for Piano in 1955/56. While he decided to orchestrate them soon after, the work was not completed until half a century later in 2005. During the process he added three Prayers that intertwine with the other compositions. He closes this work with a short Amen which reconnects with the beginning of the 21st century; this contrasts with the deliberately “naive” style of the Icons, which, at times, are rather evocative of Olivier Messiaen. It is one of Rautavaaraa’s greatest works. Later on in 2007, A Tapestry of Life revealed four very contrasting movements:Stars Swarming, as we might expect, brings a night of shooting stars to life; Halcyon Days, a slight more mysterious piece, describes the evolution of the kingfisher whose genus is known as the “Halcyon”, Sighs and Tears perfectly illustrates Bergman’s intimate dramas, with his sorrowful intertwining melodies between the oboe and the cor anglais, and finally The Last Polonaise reiterates the fact that Rautavaara often included stylish polonaises in his music.