Einojuhani Rautavaara's FANTASIA Receive's Posthumous Premiere

Einojuhani Rautavaara's FANTASIA Receive's Posthumous Premiere
Last year, the classical music world mourned the loss of the great Finnish composer, Einojuhani Rautavaara, who passed away on July 27, 2016, in Helsinki at age 87. His rich legacy is further extended with the world premiere of one of his last works, the Fantasia for solo violin and orchestra, to be performed by Anne Akiko Meyers and the Kansas City Symphony, led by Michael Stern. The premiere takes place onMarch 24, 2017 (with additional performances on the 25 and 26) at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City.

The leading Finnish composer of his generation, Rautavaara wrote extensively for the orchestra, with eight symphonies and numerous concertos and orchestral pieces in his prolific catalogue, including his widely performed Cantus Arcticus (1972), his "Angel" series of orchestral works, a Harp Concerto (1999-2000) for the Minnesota Orchestra, and a Clarinet Concerto (2001-2002) for Richard Stoltzman and the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington. The new work, Fantasia, has been noted to have similar musical features as Angel of Light andCantus Arcticus.

Fantasia was commissioned by Meyers, who describes herself as a "lifelong fan" of the composer. She writes that the 15-minute piece is "transcendent and has the feeling of an elegy with a very personal reflective mood." She also comments, "Rautavaara's signature soulful sound permeates throughout the piece, with fluid harmonies and deep moods-much like flowing large movements of water and majestic scenes from nature."

In December 2015, Meyers performed the yet-unpublished work for the composer at his home in Helsinki. She describes the experience: "After I played Fantasia, he looked at me and repeatedly said, 'I wrote such beautiful music!' We laughed and agreed. I was amazed that he made no changes to any notes or dynamics. Everything was in place, just the way he wrote it."

The violinist recorded the Fantasia with the Philharmonia Orchestra and Kristjan Järvi in May 2016, and shortly after Rautavaara's passing, she and eOne Music digitally released the single track on September 9, 2016. Meyers will additionally premiere the work as an arrangement for violin and piano in New York at the 92Y on April 20 on a program titled "Fantasia: An Evening of Fantasy."

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