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)


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.


Nicholas Williams