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Album review: Pärt: Piano Music

November 9, 2011 | 11:30 am

Arvo Part

Pärt: Piano Music, Ralph van Raat

(Naxos)

Among these six of the mystical Estonian Arvo Pärt’s 10 solo piano pieces are his earliest from the late '50s when he was neither mystical nor particularly, in his music, Estonian. Shostakovich was a major influence, but already apparent is a gripping terseness of the spiritualist to come. The most recent score is the first recording of Pärt’s “Für Anna Maria,” which is from 2006, barely longer than a minute and almost from another planet.

The big piece is “Lamentate,” 30 times longer than "Anna Maria," for piano and orchestra. It was inspired by an Anish Kapoor sculpture (and given a theatrical premiere at Tate Modern site of the Kapoor installation by Peter Sellars). The concerto-of-sorts is here played with bold contrasts of loud and soft by Raat (an excellent Dutch pianist who specializes in Minimalism) and the Dutch ensemble conducted by the former music director of the Long Beach Symphony. The original "Lamentate" on ECM has more soul, but this disc offers a fascinating look at some parts of Pärt you won’t find elsewhere -- and on a budget label.

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Photo: Arvo Pärt. Credit: Roberto Masotti

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