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Tabula Rasa; Fratres; Symphony No. 3

Artist: Arvo Part
Arvo Part - Tabula Rassa; Fratres; Symphony No. 3
Label: Deutsche Grammophon
Regular Price: $14.95
On Sale For: $7.48 
Year: 1999
Format: CD


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DG's beautifully packaged and produced 20/21 series here pays homage to Arvo Pärt, presenting a new interpretation of two of his most familiar works--already indisputable classics--Tabula Rasa and Fratres. For all of their "minimalist" technique, there's a fathomless--call it timeless, if you will--beauty to these scores the deeper you plunge into their hypnotic sound world. The best place to discover them remains ECM's breakthrough release Tabula Rasa. Unlike Gidon Kremer (the superb interpreter of that recording), and despite an epiphany he mentions in the booklet--likening this music to the desert landscape of Utah--Gil Shaham doesn't seem to grasp one of the key components of that beauty: its austerity, its distance, as through a glass. There's an exquisite finish to his tone, to be sure, but Shaham essentially overromanticizes this music, coating it with a lovely but undifferentiated sheen, although he does hint at the vocal character of his lines. Passages of Fratres thus sound curiously tamed, as if we could be listening to such pastoral blandishments as The Lark Ascending or, in Tabula Rasa, to a Vivaldi andante. Despite this disappointment, the disc offers a thoroughly compelling account of the Third Symphony (1971) by its dedicatee, Neeme Järvi. It's fascinating to hear Pärt's points of origin--Soviet music, chant from the Orthodox Church, the fascination with bell sounds--so clearly delineated and transmogrified as in this work. Järvi molds its colorful but somber scoring into vividly dramatic shapes, hinting at Shostakovich in the chasm-deep bass lines tugging against the piercing treble or--as in the haunting opening solo--at the bleak majesty of a Sibelius landscape. The very success of Pärt's better-known works has tended to obscure the quality of such earlier pieces, but this performance helps widen the perspective to a more inclusive one. --Thomas May
Gil Shaham (violin); Adele Anthony (violin); Roger Carlsson (percussion); Erik Risberg (prepared piano); Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra; Neeme Jarvi (conductor)
  1. Fratres
  2. Tabula Rasa
  3. Symphony No. 3
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