Music Favorites X - Einojuhani Rautavaara's Piano Concerto #1
Einojuhani Rautavaara is a contemporary Finnish composer who has written a substantial amount of orchestral music. His rejection of "modern" composition techniques and his unique style has led him to a musical language that is accessible yet still distinctly modern. His most famous piece is "Cantus Arcticus" - a concerto for birds and orchestra featuring recorded birdsong - but his other pieces, particularly his piano concertos, deserve further study.
The first movement of his first piano concerto is a stunning display of virtuosity from the soloist, banging out a triumphant melody in tone clusters with the right hand while maintaining a manic polytonal undercurrent with the left. These clusters make their appearance throughout the piece, both in the piano and the orchestra, culminating in an epic volley of sound as the main theme recapitulates in massive arm clusters. This unique combination of old and new gives it a sound that makes it one of my favorite piano concerto movements.