Part: Tabula Rasa

Album cover art for upc 042281776427
Label: ECM
Catalog: 4228177642
Format: CD

Gidon Kremer, Keith Jarrett, Alfred Schnittke, Die 12 Cellisten der Berliner Philharmoniker, Stuttgarter Philharmoniker, Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra, Dennis Russell Davies, Saulius Sondeckis

Fratres Cantus in memory of Benjamin Britten Fratres Tabula Rasa

This seminal disc now almost seems like the manifesto for a whole new strain of minimalism that has found an enormously receptive audience. It represented a breakthrough for Estonian composer Arvo Pärt, whose music--like that of his European colleagues John Tavener and Henryk Górecki--pursues an austerely beautiful simplicity that suggests spiritual illumination. Fratres, given here in two versions, one for piano and violin and the other for 12 cellos, repeatedly intones a sequence resembling chant to convey a sensibility that seems at once archaic and beyond time. Violinist Gidon Kremer, for whom Pärt wrote the exquisitely contemplative and hypnotic title work, grasps the music's koan-like idiom, allowing an inner fullness to resonate through the most fragile, ethereal wisps of tone against the mysterious clangings of prepared piano. The tolling of the tubular bells in Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Brittenis an emotionally charged lament, based on a simple minor descending scale, that introduces Pärt's fascination with what he calls "tintinnabulation": the literal and metaphorical sound of ringing bells. This recording is also famous for the acoustically warm presence produced by ECM's Manfred Eicher, which magnificently captures the mystical simplicity of Pärt's sound world. --Thomas May

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