The most comprehensive collection ever issued of Arvo Pärt’s music, surveying the full range of an output from one of the most distinctive voices in late 20th-century music.
Subsequently and exhaustively imitated, the language of the Estonian composer Arvo Pärt is immediately recognisable, speaking with the ‘still small voice of calm’ amid chaos and confusion. Born in 1935, Pärt reached compositional maturity in the late 60s with a series of works which painfully juxtaposed modernist dissonances with diatonic islands of peace, often Christian in message and raining down criticism from Soviet authorities.
At this point the evolution of his style produced an unassuming piano piece, Für Alina, which holds the key to the next 25 years of his music. For it he developed a ‘tintinnabuli’ technique where melodies move step by step around a central pitch, producing a soundworld timeless yet original and distinctively new.
From the technique grew instant classics of a genre at one remove from the slick certainties of US minimalism: Fratres and its many arrangements (eight of them represented here), the Cantus in memory of Britten, Tabula rasa for a Baroque sized concerto grosso ensemble and more. Then, having emigrated to Germany, Pärt applied the technique to the Christian texts which were always his rock and inspiration: first the St John Passion in 1982, followed by a sheaf of vocal works such as the Magnificat, Stabat Mater and Maria Antiphons which have become standard repertoire for choirs around the world.
In the last 20 years the harmonies in his music have filled out and become accommodated to a Romantic richness of expression even in sacred works such as I am the true vine and The Woman with the Alabaster Box, but there remains an individual simplicity to Pärt’s idiom that resists easy classification while continuing to affirm beauty and touch the souls of listeners.
All the works mentioned here are included in the box, in widely praised modern recordings made during the last 20 years, and the set is accompanied by full booklet notes.
Arvo Pärt (born 1935) is without doubt one of the best-known and -loved composers of today. His highly personal style, influenced by Gregorian Chant, is based on slowly shifting patterns, tintinnabuli (little bells), creating a meditative and hallucinatory effect, a visionary world of spiritual contemplation. Pärt’s sacred choral works enjoy a huge popularity with both the traditional classical audience as well as an open-minded new generation.
This substantial collection brings together Pärt’s best-known and loved works, both instrumental and vocal: Spiegel im Spiegel, Für Alina, Tabula Rasa, Fratres, Magnificat, Berliner Messe, St. John Passion, as well as organ works and the complete piano works.
Excellent performances by Le Nuove Musiche/Krijn Koetsveld, Leeds Cathedral Choir, Ulster Orchestra, Jeroen van Veen and many others.
The booklet contains extensive liner notes on the composer and his works.