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The final work by Finnish composer Einojuhani Rautavaara, who died in 2016, is premiered in Paris in February with orchestration completed by Kalevi Aho. The first performance of Two Serenades for Violin and Orchestra features Hilary Hahn as soloist with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France conducted by Mikko Franck.

The last of the late works composed by Einojuhani Rautavaara, awaiting premiere at the time of his death in 2016, receives its world premiere at the 2019 Festival Présences in Paris. Two Serenades for Violin and Orchestra is performed by soloist Hilary Hahn at the Maison de la Radio’s Auditorium de Radio France on 17 February at 6.00 pm with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France under the baton of Mikko Franck who commissioned the work. The concert will be webcast on 22 February on France Musique.

Two Serenades was composed by Rautavaara in 2016 and the orchestration was left incomplete at the time of his death in July that year. Radio France has commissioned his compatriot composer Kalevi Aho to finish the orchestration of the second of the two serenades, which had largely only reached the stage of a reduction with piano. Aho also put the final editing touches to the first serenade in terms of nuances, slurs etc. The opening Sérenade pour mon amour is written for violin and strings combining a barcarolle-like opening with a distinctive Rautavaara perpetual ‘singing’ melody. The final Sérenade pour la vie adds woodwind and horns to the strings, moving through an opening andante and a comodo central section to a faster agitato conclusion.

In his programme note, Kalevi Aho describes Einojuhani Rautavaara as “a classic in modern Finnish music. As a composer he was visionary, his musical language is always very characteristic, and he belongs to the most popular and most often played Finnish composers in Finland and abroad. Rautavaara’s aim in the Serenades was not to create a virtuoso piece for violin and orchestra - the work is not technically difficult for the soloist or orchestra. And although the piece is his last work, the Serenades do not tell about a human being ahead of death. On the contrary – this nostalgic work is in praise of life and love, forming a very beautiful and touching endpoint for the output of a great composer.”

Other late works by Rautavaara include Into the Heart of Light (2011) for string orchestra, which has been rapidly taken up by chamber orchestras with 20 performances in seven countries and has been released on an Ondine disc featuring the Helsinki Philharmonic and John Storgårds. The same recording features the composer’s setting of the Omar Khayyam Rubáiyát (2014) for baritone and chamber orchestra, written for Gerald Finley. The Fantasia for Violin and Orchestra (2015), composed for Anne Akiko Meyers, has been released on disc by Avie with its dedicatee joined by the Philharmonia Orchestra under Kristjan Järvi. The luxuriant orchestral concert-opener In the Beginning (2015), Rautavaara’s last fully completed work, has had 14 international performances scheduled since its premiere last year, all conducted by Pietari Inkinen.

>  Further information on Work: Deux Sérénades

Photo: © Maarit Kytöharju / FIMIC

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