This is one of the most comprehensive flute concertos ever written. Einojuhani Rautavaara (b. 1928), one of Finland's leading composers, requires the flute soloist to bring on stage four different flutes, and to display the different capabilities of each. The instruments are the piccolo, the standard flute, the alto flute in G, and the true bass flute (the alto flute is sometimes misleading called a "bass flute"). It was written after the composer rejected the 12-tone and other advanced or experimental styles he had been using, returning to a songful, even Romantic style.
The first movement, Andantino, begins with cadenza-like passage for flute alone, leading to an orchestral entrance in lovely trills. In the center of the movement the soloist takes the bass flute, with a darker atmosphere. The regular flute resumes for the end of the movement. The second movement, Vivace, displays the piccolo in a slightly tipsy carnival atmosphere. The third movement is marked Andante moderato, and is for alto flute. Rautavaara here uses what he calls an "impulse form," meaning that a musical impulse (only minimally varied) recurs to kick the music forward. The finale features bass flute in the outer parts and standard flute in the middle. It is a Allegro summing up the material of the previous movements. It ends with a dark B flat minor chord, with the soloist standing alienated from it by insisting on a D natural, bringing the work to a hushed, mysterious ending.