RAUTAVAARA: Cantus Arcticus, Op. 61, Piano Concerto No. 1, Op. 45, Symphony No. 3, Op. 20
Laura Nikkola, pianist/Royal Scottish National Orch/Hannu Lintu, cond.
Naxos 8.554147 (B) (DDD) TT: 73:32

Here is a welcome addition to the catalog, a budget-priced CD of Finnish composer Einojuhani Rautavaara's most famous work, Cantus Arcticus, along with two other intriguing major works. We've reviewed the Catalyst recording of Cantus, which is licensed from Ondine and still available on that label. The new Naxos version is admirable in every way except that the recorded bird sounds are a bit too prominent, thus losing some of their evocative effect. The Piano Concerto rather sounds as if the pianist is playing with boxing gloves - large clusters of notes in a brilliant score played with great authority by Mikkola, who worked with the composer during recording sessions. The gem here is the Symphony No. 3, a thirty-three minute Brucknerian work of high drama. The composer suggests the music echoes "the rhythm of the earth and sea," and one can understand why. With the possible exception of the too-loud bird sounds in Cantus, reproduction is fine. Recommended.

R.E.B. (Oct. 2000)