Talla Vocal Ensemble / Ylioppilaskunnan Laulajat

Einojuhani Rautavaara: Complete Works for Male Choir

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Since Einojuhani Rautavaara is still actively composing, it might seem premature to label a collection his Complete Works for Male Chorus, but there is already enough material to fill out two CDs. Rautavaara is an exceptionally prolific composer, and he has been writing for men's voices since early in career; the pieces collected here span more than 50 years. The composer is a master of graceful choral writing; each piece is put together with skill and imagination. It's unfortunate that the pieces aren't presented in chronological order, since it would have been helpful to hear the composer's growth. As it is, this ordering tends to homogenize the impression of Rautavaara's styles, and while his versatility is evident from piece to piece, and individual works are striking, it's easy for a sense of monotony to set in over the course of the nearly 100 minutes of music. The composer favors dense textures and the unrelenting sound of massed a cappella low voices over such a long time tends to dull the ear and makes it easy to miss the felicities of individual works. The pieces with sections for a solo voice stand out dramatically for the textural contrast they provide. The best way to appreciate these works would be to savor a few at a time. The YL Male Voice Choir, led by Matti Hyökki, and the Talla Vocal Ensemble, led by Pasi Hyökki, sing with excellent intonation and blend, and their tone is rounded and full. Ondine's sound is present and warm; it's hard to know whether or not the engineers could have done anything to alleviate the darkness of such bass-heavy repertoire.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
2:36
2
2:55
Preludes (2) by T. S. Eliot, for male chorus, Op. 32
3
2:09
4
0:50
Psalms (2), for male or mixed chorus, Op. 37
5
2:45
6
2:40
7
3:30
8
1:40
Elämän kirja (A Book of Life), 11 songs in 5 languages for male chorus & soloists
9
3:56
10
2:35
11
1:13
12
3:27
13
1:16
14
1:37
15
1:06
16
1:39
17
2:19
18
1:30
19
7:15

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Songs (4) from the Opera Aleksis Kivi, for voice & piano (or orchestra)
1
4:04
2
1:33
3
3:36
4
3:39
5
3:12
6
4:36
Serenades (4), for male chorus
7
1:41
8
2:09
9
1:29
10
2:22
11
5:57
12
3:51
13
1:57
14
2:01
Romances (4) from the opera Rasputin, for male chorus
15
2:24
16
3:10
17
1:49
18
2:20
blue highlight denotes track pick