Einojuhani Rautavaara, 1972.
Cantus Arcticus - I. Suo (The Marsh).

Einojuhani Rautavaara's Cantus Arcticus the so-called "Concerto for Birds and Orchestra" is one of the most innovative and remarkable compositions of the last 50 years. While Finland's Rautavaara has yet to become a house hold name here in America, he has a following which grows by the day and will certainly earn him a place in classical music immortality.

Cantus Arcticus is unique in that it is the marriage of sounds produced by a live orchestra and pre-recorded bird sounds. Rautavaara himself taped the bird of Finland both in the marshlands as well as above the Arctic Circle. The result is the sound of peaceful nature, the harmony of what surrounds us when we venture off into the unspoiled wild. The first movement, properly titled Suo (The Marsh), features wonderful solo flutes and woodwinds which mimick bird song and the recordings of bog birds in the early spring. As the movement progresses the strings join the piece and serve as the transient intruder trudging along through the marsh.

Kaj Stenvall is Finland's most impressive pop artists. His ability to convey the universal feeling of almost any scene and super-impose his trademark duck character (often compared to Donald Duck) leads to memorable artwork full of emotion, humor and a unique personality. "Strange Waters", as seen above, convays a sense of serenity apparent in nature and the transient passing of the duck and his boat much in the way that Ruatavaara does.

Selected recordings recommended for purchasing:
Lahti Symphony Orchestra (Conducted by Vanska) version available here.
Royal Scottish National Orchestra (Conducted by Lintu) version available here.

Artwork by: Kaj Stenvall // Strange Waters


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