for mixed choir (SSAATTBB) a cappella
Text: English (Rautavaara)
This carol was commissioned by King’s College, Cambridge and first performed at A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols on 24 December 2010. Rautavaara’s mystical style comes through in the parallel textures and shifting tonality. Christmas Carol is a challenging but entirely rewarding contemporary carol for choirs looking for something a bit different to add to their repertoire.
Einojuhani Rautavaara is the leading Finnish composer of his generation. He studied with Merikanto at the Helsinki Academy (1948–52), with Persichetti at the Juilliard School in New York (1955–56), and with Sessions and Copland at Tanglewood (1955). He first came to international attention in 1955 when the neo-classical A Requiem in Our Time for brass and percussion won the Thor Johnson Composer’s Competition in Cincinnati. He studied serialism and soon integrated twelve note techniques, without displacing his essential Romanticism. In the late 1960s Rautavaara distanced himself from serialism and his mystical character came more to the fore in music of rich colour and sweeping melodic profile, at once accessible and evocative. Widely performed choral works include Vigilia (1971-72, rev.1996), True & False Unicorn (1971, revised 2001–02) and Katedralen (The Cathedral, 1983). His Suite de Lorca (1973) is internationally one of the most popular Finnish choral works of all time. Rautavaara’s music has been recorded on the Ondine, Finlandia, Hyperion and Naxos labels and DVDs have been released of his operas The Gift of the Magi, Alexis Kivi and Rasputin.