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Arvo Pärt: Piano Music
Arvo Pärt’s piano works range from his first public statement as a composer, the Zwei Sonatinen, to his latest, the life-affirming miniature Für Anna Maria. Moving away from his 1960s atonal language, Pärt found an essence of truth in music embodied in the simple lines of Für Alina. Lamentate is a vast monument which the composer has described as a lament ‘not for the dead, but for the living’. Multi award-winning pianist Ralph van Raat has been praised for his ‘sensitive and technically refined’ playing of Hans Otte’s Book of Sounds (8572444) (MusicWeb International).
“Marsyas [the Lamentate], is by some way the least successful piece here, an uneasy mix of bombastic, quasi-romantic piano concerto with hazy spirituality...But all the other piano pieces are wonderful: burbling baroque toccatas, hypnotic variations (echoing his Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten) and the pared down Für Anna Maria of 2006, new to disc. Fine playing by Ralph van Raat.” The Observer, 25th September 2011
“This is a well-conceived crash-course in significant moments in the development of Pärt's music...With its visceral Romantic gestures convincingly realised by JoAnn Falletta, Lamentate, a reaction to Kapoor's work, is imbued with a sense of anxiety. Dark textures and violent outbursts, recalling Pärt's early avant-garde style, almost conceal the underpinning tintinnabulist matrix.” BBC Music Magazine, November 2011 *****
“Van Raat's playing is convincing throughout.” Gramophone Magazine, December 2011
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world premiere recordings
“The main piece on this latest release has passages of visceral power unheard in Pärt's work for almost three decades. Lamentate was inspired by Anish Kapoor's gigantic sculpture Marsyas, which filled the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern in London. Confronted with this monumental work, Pärt felt he was standing before his own body after death. 'I had a strong sense of not being ready to die,' he says, 'and was moved to ask myself what I could still accomplish in the time left to me.' Lamentate is intended as a lament for the living, 'struggling with the pain and hopelessness of this world'. The solo piano part can be seen as the first person narrative of an individual, beset by challenges represented by the orchestra, which uses sharper textures, more dramatic gestures and a broader range of colours than we usually expect from this most controlled and ascetic of composers. It makes one eager to know what his next step will be.
In Da pacem Domine (2004), for which Sarah Leonard extends the Hilliard's range, Pärt takes a ninth-century antiphon as his startingpoint, floating the serene, radiant lines of this prayer for peace with characteristic airy grace, slowly opening up the textures and exploring some tart harmonies before returning to a final consoling chord.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
“After a subterranean rumble, a sorrowful fanfare makes way for an ascent of the solo piano keyboard, and a shuddering orchestral climax that sets the tolling of alarm bells against a Mahlerian funeral march...Impressive performances, a seductive ECM recording, and works that no-one with an interest in contemporary art and music can afford to miss.” Andrew McGregor, bbc.co.uk, 7th November 2005
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