I have always loved choral music for children especially (as in composed with the certain beauty and innocence of children's voices in mind, not music composed for children's enjoyment only...that wouldn't be fair to the rest of us with ears!!) and the finest examples imo are the many works for chorus of Zoltan Kodaly (of course he wrote so much, for girl's choir, children's, mixed choirs, men's choir etc.). Also I have to confess that I guess I'm due for a "reassessment" of Rautavaara's music in general; my first exposure to his music was in the early 90's when I was managing the classical dept.
(actually it was it's own store, next to the "main" music store) of a major co...I have to say it was heaven, if only the pay had been better.. ANYhow..sorry to ramble..at this time I received a promo copy of the 1st recording of "Canticus Articus", Rautavaara's Concerto for Birds (birdsong) and Orchestra. I was quite taken with it, and the only other piece that I already enjoyed greatly that was similar was Hovhaness's "And God Created Great Whales" for Orchestra and Whale-song (recorded whales).
So, while I own most of Rautavaara's (available) output on disc, somehow I have found the "mysticism" in some of his works to be half-baked, or trying too hard (die-hard fans, please do not
send hate mail, hehe) to be mystical. I may, however, be incorrect; I haven't listened to much of his music in a long time, besides 1 of the discs from the complete concertos edition, which....ok fine, I enjoyed. -I am most fond of the Sibelian element in his work; lovely writing for winds, but in a markedly late 20th century idiom. Clearly he pays his respect to the great master Sibelius, the most significant countryman. "Marjatta the Lowly Maiden" is a 'Finnish mystery play in one act', and as such has not only the ethereal voices of children but also narration, by both the children and adults. There's also a bit of instrumental accompaniment. I think it's a beautiful work, but it takes patience, at least upon the first listen or maybe two. I loved it from the start but don't think everyone will or would love it from the start. Especially if one is not a huge fan of voices/choral writing. "Lapsimessu", The Children's Mass I like a lot too, with it's wonderful choral(solo) movements and interesting orchestral preludes. The last movement has both.
I won't write about the rest of the pieces, as it would be too long-winded. I only know I fancy the whole disc...and maybe Rautavaara in general after all. Enjoy!