Arvo PÄRT (b. 1935)
Spiegel im spiegel for violin and piano (1978) [10:22]
Variationen zur Gesundung von Arinushka for piano solo (1977) [5:36]
Fur Alina for piano solo (1976) [3:31]
Spiegel im spiegel for viola and piano (1978) [10:04]
Mozart-Adagio for violin, cello and piano (1992) [7:45]
Spiegel im spiegel for cello and piano (1978) [9:33]
Benjamin Hudson (violin, viola); Sebastian Klinger (cello); Jürgen Kruse (piano)
rec. 2006, Bauer Studios, Ludwigsburg, Germany. DDD

On 11 September 1935 Arvo Pärt was born in Paide, Estonia. He was a pupil of Heino Eller at the Tallinn conservatoire. The year 2010 saw his 75th birthday. I knew little or nothing about him or his music until I heard his Cantus – In Memoriam Benjamin Britten during a Proms broadcast in 1979 when the conductor of the BBCSO was Gennady Rozhdestvensky. This piece put Pärt on the map and took his name to concert-halls and homes across the world. Before that he had ruffled Soviet feathers with uncompromisingly serial works such as the first two symphonies, Nekrolog and Perpetuum Mobile. Now however his music including Fratres, Cantus and Spiegel im Spiegel taps into the spirit of the times and even appears in films from the last decade such as There Will Be Blood, Dead Man's Shoes and Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11. I am told that Reha Erdem’s film Times and Winds has an original score by Pärt. Many people will ‘know’ his music without knowing his name.

This very short-timed chamber music collection was made in Germany, his adopted home since 1980. Spiegel im Spiegel hear appears in three variants where the piano is the constant and the melody role is taken by violin, by viola and finally by cello. It is a benediction of a piece. Its crystalline bell tracery is taken by the piano with the occasional ‘earth’ of a bass note while the string instrument curves in hypnotically unhurried motion. As can be seen from the header the cello version is marginally faster than the other two versions. The little Variationen zur Gesundung von Arinushka blends that slow tintinnabulation with the variation form usually built around the treble end of the keyboard with occasional bass notes anchoring the atmosphere. Fur Alina is again a deliberate piece in which time’s progress is retarded an effect articulated through the stony and mildly dissonant melodic line of the piano. It radiates a gently smiling melancholy. The Mozart-Adagio deploys all three instruments in a work that has elements of placidly serene Mozartean pastiche with a more contemporary yet agreeably accessible dissonance and a sensationally original understated close.

The notes are helpful and are the handiwork of Emanuel Overbeeke.

If you are looking for a Pärt chamber music collection, are tolerant of short playing time and know that you already have a weakness for Spiegel im Spiegel then you cannot go wrong with this disc.

Rob Barnett

Short playing time but if you have a weakness for Pärt in chamber format then you cannot go wrong with this disc.