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Himself a Lutheran by formation but of no fixed faith, Einojuhani Rautavaara’s a cappella Mass came out of work he had done in the early 1970s on a Credo and an Orthodox Vigil, and one senses in all these works a greater interest in liturgy as ritual and musical form than as a route to transcendence. Nevertheless, the Helsinki Chamber Choir preserves a sense of mystery and ‘otherness’ in their mostly high-register singing. Two Rautavaara pieces (Our Joyful’st Feast is the other) are grouped here with mostly shorter works by Lotta Wennäkoski, whose speciality in vocal writing is a kind of phonemic word-play, and Paola Livorsi. The Italian’s Lamenti makes use of spatial effects and other devices that seem to derive from her study of electronic music, but the choir makes them sound perfectly natural and almost spontaneous.

BRIAN MORTON Read the full review on Agora Classica


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