Pärt, Gubaidulina, Gorecki & Rautavaara

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COMPOSERS: Górecki & Rautavaara,Gubaidulina,Part
LABELS: Nimbus
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Music for Organ
WORKS: Works
PERFORMER: Kevin Bowyer (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: NI 5675

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With its clear, uncluttered sound, the Marcussen organ of Tonbridge School, Kent, is a suitably chaste medium for the presentation of Arvo Pärt’s complete corpus of music for the instrument. His work keeps company with Gubaidulina’s hell und dunkel, a characteristic tapestry of special effects turned to more than simply meretricious purpose, Rautavaara’s joyful Laudatio trinitatis and Ta Tou Theou, and Górecki’s uncompromising Kantata. These are distinctive pieces, certainly; but it is only in the Pärt that an unmistakable signature is present throughout, the organ proving an ideal medium for his kind of utterance: slow and sustained, multi-layered, and unchanging of timbre. Trivium (‘three different ways to the same end’) and Mein Weg hat Gipfel und Wellentäler (three strands of rhythmically interlocking music: left hand, right hand, pedals) are textbook examples of Pärt’s progress through his tonally static world of contemplation, where absence of closure creates a simulacrum of eternity. In his booklet note to Kevin Bowyer’s disciplined yet never austere performances, Christopher Bowers-Broadbent names Pari intervallo as among Pärt’s most beautiful composition, a claim both bold and true. No less impressive, though further removed from this composer’s more sublime stretches, is Annum per annum, an organ ‘setting’ of the Ordinary of the Mass.

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Nicholas Williams