Five essential works by Arvo Pärt

We choose the best works by the pioneering Estonian composer

Published: August 25, 2019 at 9:00 am

Spiegel im Spiegel

The simplest of simple works for violin and piano, this is a hypnotically slow, fragile piece with an almost religious intensity.


Recommended recording:
Vladimir Spivakov (violin), Sergei Berzodny (piano)
ECM 449 9582

Te Deum

Scored for three choirs, prepared piano, strings and wind harp, the 1984 Te Deum employs Pärt’s minimalist ‘Tintinnabuli’ style that he still uses to this day.

Recommended recording:
Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, Tallinn Chamber Orchestra/Tonu Kajuste
ECM 439 1622

Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten

Pärt wrote his most popular work shortly after Britten’s death in 1976. Gently falling minor scales on the strings are interspersed with a bell’s melancholy toll.

Recommended recording:
Scottish National Orchestra/Neeme Järvi
Chandos CHAN 241-26

Tabula Rasa

Also written in the 1970s, Pärt’s orchestral piece features imaginative interplay between flurries of strings and a solo violin and prepared piano.

Recommended recording:
Tasmin Little (violin), Martin Roscoe (piano), Bournemouth Sinfonietta/Richard Studt
EMI 565 0312

Third Symphony

In this 1971 work Bachian counterpoint features alongside touches of Russian Orthodox, a Church Pärt later joined.

Recommended recording:
Ulster Orchestra/Takuo Yuasa
Naxos 8.554591


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