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Arvo Pärt: Tabula Rasa [Special Edition with Book] [Deluxe]

Album Summary

>Pärt, Arvo : Fratres, for violin & piano
>Pärt, Arvo : Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten, for string orchestra & bell
>Pärt, Arvo : Fratres
>Pärt, Arvo : Tabula rasa, concerto for 2 violins (or violin & viola), prepared piano & string orchestra
Performers Conductor Ensemble
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Notes & Reviews:

"Special edition, including study scores

The iconic blue, grey and white CD cover has now become a book cover, which, given the original album's significance, is hardly surprising. Back in 1984 Tabula rasa (blank slate) helped re-educate our ears and throw open the doors of our musical sensibilities to spatial domains that had otherwise been closed to us. Pärt's near-minimalist "tintinnabulation" (a bell-like style based on a simple triad), his impeccable ear, sense of musical timing and deep spiritual engagement helped alter the way we listened in the late 20th century, cleansed us - or some of us - of the incessant need for musical "busyness".

Far from wearing off, the novelty of Pärt's austerely meditative style has since become an essential component of our musical lives in the 21st century. If you're a newcomer, then the weeping cadences of the Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten would be a good place to start, though the two very different versions of Fratres (brothers) will prove equally compelling, the violin option opening to fast, spidery arpeggios played solo by Gidon Kremer, before pianist Keith Jarrett calls a forceful halt and Kremer responds with tactile pizzicatos. The less openly demonstrative version for 12 cellos employs the same beautiful chords underpinned by a gentle, sporadic thudding. And there's Tabula rasa itself, scored for prepared piano, two solo violins, string quartet and double bass, the seemingly timeless second movement "Silentium" opening to an infinitely strange rising sequence on the piano that sets off a haunting bass drone. Nothing else in 20th-century music is quite like it and while various later recordings have done the piece proud, this finely tensed version by Kremer and Tatjana Grindenko with Alfred Schnittke at the piano and the Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra under Saulius Sondeckis is a very definite first choice.

The book includes perceptively written contributions from Paul Griffiths and Wolfgang Sandner as well as a very instructive first-ever publication of facsimiles of the manuscripts for Tabula rasa and the Cantus, and beautifully printed study scores of all five works. Even if you think you can't follow a score, do try, and not just once... start with Tabula rasa's "Silentium", where the piano's very visible punctuation will keep you on course. This extremely handsome production is a worthy tribute to what is without any shadow of a doubt one of the great recordings of the last century."-Grammophon

Gramophone Magazine
This extremely handsome production is a worthy tribute to what is without any shadow of a doubt one of the great recordings of last century.

Classic FM Magazine
The 'original' performers Gidon Kremer and Keith Jarrett remain unsurpassed in the violin/piano version of Fratres, as do the Berlin Phil's players in the version for twelve cellos. Whether you notice it or not, it's the architecture of the pieces that make them powerful and those artists have the measure of it.

Notes & Reviews:

Arvo Pärt delivers a brief collection of sacred music -- bold, stoic, and sober. His compositions are full of a passionate and melancholy sort of life, a life of deep humility and faith. One of his earliest releases on the ECM label, Tabula Rasa is a richly woven tapestry of string arrangements, and a good introduction to his work. The album opens with Fratres -- a signature piece for the composer that would have many re-tellings over the years. Here, ECM veteran Keith Jarrett's piano has a rich dialogue with Gidon Kremer's violin; both musicians traverse the chilled waters of Estonia with urgent staccato and contemplative grace. The piece returns later in more ominous quietude, this time whispered out by the 12 cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. This arrangement is much more meditative in nature, more reverent perhaps to Pärt's deity, and essentially the centerpiece of the album. Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten is a loving, almost melodramatic tribute to a composer that Pärt wished very much to meet (though never did). Cellos and violins drip tears that cascade ever downward to a chord which seems to close infinitely, resonating with the peal of a distant church bell. Pärt's final selection, Tabula Rasa, follows much of the same bittersweet territory as what came before it, though it does encompass greater degrees of discord at the offset. As the 25-minute-long piece settles into night, icy clusters of prepared piano fall between the exchange of two violins and chamber orchestra to invoke feelings of sacrifice, mystery, and deliverance. This is a modest but pivotal recording to own -- the essence of Arvo Pärt. ~ Glenn Swan


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Works Details

>Arvo Pärt (1935 - ) : Fratres, for violin & piano
  • Performer: Gidon Kremer (Violin)
  • Running Time: 11 min. 31 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 1977-1980

>Arvo Pärt (1935 - ) : Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten, for string orchestra & bell
  • Conductor: Dennis Davies
  • Running Time: 5 min. 8 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 1977-1980

>Arvo Pärt (1935 - ) : Fratres
  • Running Time: 11 min. 59 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 1982

>Arvo Pärt (1935 - ) : Tabula rasa, concerto for 2 violins (or violin & viola), prepared piano & string orchestra
  • Performers: Gidon Kremer (Violin); Alfred Schnittke (Prepared Piano)
  • Running Time: 26 min. 25 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 1977
  • Studio/Live: Live