ARVO PÄRT (b.1935): Lamentate for Piano and Orchestra, These Words.... for String Orchestra and Percussion.
Catalogue Number: 05T065
Label: Orange Mountain Music
Description: Pärt's enormous concertante work - his largest instrumental composition to date - is his response to Anish Kapoor's monumental sculpture-installation 'Marsyas'. The sculpture, a huge stretched red membrane, is linked by its title to Titian's painting depicting the satyr's death by flaying, and when you know this it takes on an intensely disturbing aspect; otherwise it is a huge curved shape of organic forms, threatening by its overwhelming size if nothing else. In Pärt it inspired an existential meditation and a kind of out-of-body experience twice removed, so to speak, from the original grisly subject-matter, and prompted the composition of a huge 'lament for the living'. The work is tintinnabulary Pärt writ large, exploring a sequence of limited pitch material - basically tonal chords - repetitively and in various transformations. Some sections sound like obsessively sampled extracts from Romantic works, which links the piece unexpectedly to familiar Romantic concerti. The work alternates what the composer calls " 'brutal-overwhelming’ and ‘intimate-fragile’" sections, combining meditation with terrifying grandeur. The piece so impressed Philip Glass that he requested its inclusion in his own 75th birthday concert, which presumably explains its appearance on his record label. These Words is an ideal coupling; taking as its basis the human foibles listed in a Slavonic prayer and linking them to Shakespeare's Hamlet: "These words, like daggers, enter in mine ears", the work is a large, arched lament, slow, stately and monumental in sorrowing chords and textures and tolling percussion. Maki Namekawa (piano), Bruckner Orchestra Linz; Dennis Russell Davies.