22 Aug 2010

Arvo Pärt (b. 1935)

From Composer of the Week, 9:00 am on 22 August 2010
Arvo Pärt

Arvo Pärt Photo: Estonian Foreign Ministry

Arvo Pärt is a musical time traveller and unlikely hero with a quiet but rebellious spirit. Pärt was born in Estonia in 1935. At that time the country, which had a long history of colonisation, was an independent republic. But after just 20 years of independence, when Pärt was just five years old, Estonia was occupied once again.

Despite his obvious gift for composition - his teacher at Tallinn Conservatory said: "he just seemed to shake his sleeves and notes would fall out" -  Soviet Union control made it hard for Pärt to access music from the wider world. Artistic restrictions also meant Pärt's early attempts to embrace Schoenberg's serialism were met with derision from the establishment. But as it turned out, for Pärt, serialism was not creatively stimulating.

Instead, he turned to early music; to plainsong; and to the beginnings of polyphony. This music has its roots in religion and Pärt was also drawn to join the Russian Orthodox Church. Minimalist and meditative are two words used by others to describe his music, but Pärt preferred to say it is like light going through a prism - each listener having the opportunity to interpret the sound, together creating a rainbow-like spectrum of musical experience.

Music Details:

PÄRT  Fratres for violin and piano - ECM 817 764

Dorian Supin (dir)      24 Preludes for a Fugue [DVD] – Idéale Audience International, 2005 – EDV 1333

PÄRT  Fratres for 12 cellos - ECM 817 764

PÄRT  Tabula rasa - ECM 817 764

PÄRT  In Principio - ECM 2050

PÄRT  La Sindone - ECM 2050

PÄRT  Passio - ECM 1370

PÄRT  Spiegel im Spiegel - Brilliant Classics 8847

PÄRT  Nekrolog - Virgin 5 45212

PÄRT  Credo - DG 471 769

PÄRT  Aleluya In Exitu Israel - Glossa 922005

SHOSTAKOVICH      Symphony No 5 – Symposium 1295

PROKOFIEV  Violin Concerto in D – Testament SBT 1224

TCHAIKOVSKY        Dance of the Sugar-Plum Fairy – CALA CACD 0521

MOZART       Adagio from Piano Sonata in F – DG 449 722

BACH    Prelude 1 in C from The Well-Tempered Clavier – RCA GD 86217

PÄRT  Sarah was Ninety years old - ECM 1430

PÄRT  Fur Alina - BIS CD 1434

PÄRT  Tabula rasa - ECM 817 764

PÄRT  My Heart's in the Highlands - Hyperion CDA 67675

PÄRT  Orient Occident - ECM 472 080

PÄRT  Cantus in Memorium Benjamin Britten - ECM 817 764

PÄRT  Pilgrim's Song - ECM 472 080

PÄRT  Fragile e conciliante from Lamentate - ECM 1930












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