Part: Fratres; Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten; Summa; Spiegel im Spiegel; Festina lente; Tabula rasa

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COMPOSERS: Part
LABELS: EMI Eminence
WORKS: Fratres; Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten; Summa; Spiegel im Spiegel; Festina lente; Tabula rasa
PERFORMER: Tasmin Little (violin), Martin Roscoe (piano), Robert Aldwinckle (prepared piano)Bournemouth Sinfonietta/Richard Studt (director/violin)
CATALOGUE NO: CDEMX 2221 DDD
Arvo Pärt’s instrumental music shares the qualities of his celebrated vocal works such as the Miserere: a detached, otherworldly objectivity existing side by side with a powerful emotional impact. His Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten, dating from 1977, forms the centrepiece of this engaging sequence of works, and is the earliest example of an art that within its own clearly defined limits has become a distinct voice on the international scene.

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The essence of the style is the contrast of extremes of motion and stillness, summarised in Fratres by frantic violin passagework underpinned by slow, hymn-like material on the piano. The tone here and in the lucidly triadic Spiegel im Spiegel, also for violin and piano, recalls late Shostakovich. The flowing, elegantly sorrowful ambience of Summa for string orchestra is more personally Pärt, matched by the spectral timbres of Festina lente, built on a movement towards a glowing climax rather than a stream of wave-like repetitions.

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Tabula rasa, the most extended work on the disc, is also the composer’s most challenging redefinition of traditional notions of musical time, reaching a peak of intensity in the static second part, ‘Silentium’. The performers in all these works play with consistently fine musical sense and technical accuracy. Nicholas Williams