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The Best of Arvo Pärt

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2 Reviews

Genre: Classical - Classical Instrumental / Audio CD released 2004-05-03 at EMI Classics

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    2 Reviews
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      25.02.2001 03:05
      Very helpful



      This is the cd I listened to most frequently while I was pregnant. I know that the popular choice is pan pipes or that awful waterfall, tinkly spiritual stuff, but nothing could compare to the calm that fell across myself and my bump when I listened to Arvo Part's Tabula Rasa. Part was born in Estonia (I'm not quite sure when),and grew up in Talinn under the severe influence of the Soviet Union. He didn't have a particularly religious background, yet when he started writing music, his desire was to write 'prayers'. That's not necessarily prayers in a literal sense, more the music that would be a prayer in its calmness, serenity and pureness. Some prayer texts were written and set to music, other psalms were taken and treated the same way, but most of his available work is orchestral. Tabula Rasa consists of four works: Frates, Cantus in memory of Benjamin Britten, Frates (a different piece from the first) and Tabula Rasa itself. Frates (the original), was written in 1977, variations on it were written later (ie the third piece on the album). There is a violin intro which is unusually hectic for Part (as you soon find out), to a composed and restrained piano, the violin then following in sequences, sometimes at speed, sometimes in pace. Cantus was written in memorial of Benjamin Britten (death - 1976), which touched Part deeply. He had only recently discovered Britten's work, and felt terrible remorse for never meeting with him. The piece is funereal and sombre, slow and flowing; The violins and cellos are continuously interupted with the tolling of church bells. The second Frates is more sedate than the first. This time several cellos hold the piece, with another cello gliding beneath in deep tones. Tabula Rasa is an absolute masterpiece of minimilist charm;Two violins play, chase each others notes and interject each others path, then silence, then the quiet game starts a
      gain; An especially prepared piano chimes in the distance. These are such humble and quiet pieces, they sound like little secrets being whispered in your ear! For all of you who enjoy exploring music, then I heartily suggest a quiet moment alone with this album. Also available: Misere, Passio, Arbos.


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        13.07.2000 19:00
        Very helpful
        1 Comment



        Arvo Part is quickly becoming a household name for what has been dubbed his 'holy minmalism.' Whilst it is nice that he is becoming well known, the press's eagerness to pigeonhole what he does is likely to do him more harm than good. Perhaps his music uses an economy of means, but it has nothing in common with mainstream Minimalism, and very little common ground with Tavener, Gorecki, Vasks and Kanchelis, who are usually associated with him. Part in fact began his career as a composer of avant-garde Collage and Serial music, of the type which nowadays gets called 'Squeaky-Gate' music. There is nothing remarkable about the works written in this period. They sound like just one more pretentious Cage/Stockhausen wannabe, playing around with angry noises and little imagination. After a while Part decided that this was not a way forward, that it was a sterile language. He stopped composing for several years, during which he immersed himself in early music, studying its techniques and sounds. When he emerged he forged his present style, which he calls Tintinabuli (meaning 'the tinkling of bells'). It is a style in which one triad is allowed to permeate the whole of a movement, or even a whole work. Literally the triad is there the whole time, and the work gives a sense of unfolding this triad, and exploring the harmonics potential within it. His melody, counterpoint and harmony are now reduced to the barest of means, without any elaboration. For instance a melody is typically just a scale fragment, and this will be paired with a harmony voice which plays the note of the central triad which is closest to the melody note. Combine several of these pairs and you get a language of considerable dissonance, but dissonance without the functional role it has in Classical music. Parts music is also remarkably mechanical. He may decide on a set of rules for assigning pitches and durations to text, at the beginning of a piece, and then ne
        ver deviate from them. The Tintinabuli works are austere in the extreme, but contain a profound beauty - possibly because the language is designed to exploit the harmonic series inherent in a single tone, something which appeals to our natural sensibilities. The poise of the choral works in this style is simply breathtaking. There are those who say that Part's music is boring, that they are waiting for something to happen. Which is to miss the point entirely. It is not a music of events and sharp contrasts, rather a music of slow unfolding, and the beauty of single sounds. You simply have to listen to some of Arvo Part's music. Start with the Passio, and I guarantee you will want to hear the rest.


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      • Product Details

        Disc #1 Tracklisting
        1 Summa
        2 O Weisheit
        3 O Adonai
        4 O Spross Aus Isais Wurzel
        5 O Schlussel Davids
        6 O Morgenstern
        7 O Konig Aller Volker
        8 O Immanuel
        9 Fratres For Violin And Piano - Martin Roscoe
        10 Festina Lente For String Orchestra And Harp - Martin Roscoe
        11 Spiegel Im Spiegel For Violin And Piano - Martin Roscoe
        12 Magnificat For Choir - Stephen Cleobury
        13 The Beatitudes For Choir And Organ - Stephen Cleobury
        14 Summa For String Orchestra - Paavo Jarvi
        15 Fratres For String Orchestra And Percussion - Paavo Jarvi
        16 Cantus In Memoriam Benjamin Britten For String Orchestra And Bell - Paavo Jarvi

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