Old faith, new music
By Jim D.
Though God endures unchanging on, the music of praise is constantly renewed and refreshed. Einojuhani Rautavaara, probably the most important Finnish composer since Sibelius, has produced works in every genre, not neglecting choral music--his sacred pieces even include a commission for the very British carol service at King's College. This program leads off with a full Mass setting for unaccompanied voices; there's also a twelve-tone Missa Brevis. It is unlikely you would hear music like this in any ordinary church--for one thing, there can't be more than a handful of choirs that could perform it! Also, much of it sounds (at first hearing) more suitable for a science-fiction movie than for a worship service. It was meant for church, however, and it does grow on one, with its ethereal beauty. The musically timid may want to start with "Evening Hymn," the most traditional piece on offer, and work their way into some of the more challenging music. Performance and recording are all that could be desired; notes and texts provided. (Watch out: There's an earlier Ondine disc with some of the same pieces.)