Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Pärt, the astonishing Estonian

One of the most popular (and controversial) contemporary classical music composers is without doubt the Esronian Arvo Pärt (born 1935). His characteristic minimal style, with some influences by Gregorian chants, quickly falls into the "love it or hate it" area, with myself on the "love it" side of the fence. This Naxos CD focuses on perhaps his most important composition, Fratres, dating back to 1976. Intriguingly, we get six different versions, ranging from cello/piano to wind octet/percussion. And it is a tertimony for the strength of this composition that it never outstays its welcome. Interspersed, we find 3 other compositions, Summa, Festina Lente and the heartbreakingly beautiful Cantus in memoriam Benjamin Britten. The performances are good (various Hungarian musicians), as is the recording. A great introduction to an essential composer.