Arvo Pärt – Fratres (1984)

The 1984 ECM album Tabula Rasa was the vehicle that introduced the revolutionary music of Arvo Pärtto audiences outside Eastern Europe and initiated what was to become one of the most extraordinary musical careers of the late 20th century. Like many of the first generation American minimalists, he limited himself to diatonic harmonies and generated pieces by setting processes in motion, but the radical simplicity he achieved was the result of religious contemplation that was at least as, if not more, formative than his quest for a new musical aesthetic. The result was music suffused by an unhurried, luminous serenity, and while it was distinctly contemporary, it had an archaic quality that tied it to the music of the very distant past.

Fratres, originally for chamber orchestra, is undeniably Pärt´s most popular work and exists in well over a dozen versions, two of which are included here. Gidon Kremer and Keith Jarret bring great nuance and sensitivity to the version for violin and piano. They play somewhat loosely with details of the score, but they are entirely in sync with the spirit of the piece, and it’s a gripping performance. The violin part is hugely virtuosic and Kremer is breathtaking, particularly in the crystalline purity of the outrageously high harmonics that end the piece. The arrangement of Fratres for 12 cellos is an altogether more lyrical and meditative version, and the cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra play it with gorgeous tone and depth. [source]

A1: Fratres : Piano – Keith Jarret / Violin Gideon Kremer (11:26)

A2: Cantus In Memory Of Benjamin Britten : Dennis Russel Davies – Conductor / Staatsorchester Stuttgart (5:00)

A3: Fratres: Performer – The 12 Cellists Of The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra Performer (11:51)

B1: Tabula Rasa: Saulius Sondekis – Conductor / Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra / Alfred Schnittke – Piano (Prepared) / Gideon Kremer – Violin / Tatiana Gindenko – Violin (26:08)

Recording: Fratres, October 1983, Basel / Cantus in memory of Benjamin Britten , January 1984, Stuttgart / Fratres (for 12 celli), February 1984, Berlin / Tabula Rasa, November 1977, Bonn, (Live recording by West German Radio, Cologne) / Released on EMI Records

 

[Dedicated Ronnie Rocket, thanks for inspiration]

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Sofia Gubaidulina – The Lyre Of Orpheus (2006)

Sofia Asgatovna Gubaidulina, (born October 24, 1931) is a Russian composer of half Russian, half Tatar ethnicity. Until 1992, she lived in Moscow. Since then, she has made her primary residence in Germany, outside Hamburg. The Lyre Of Orpheus is composed in 2006, recorded July 2006 at Lockenhaus Festival and released in 2012 on the CD Canticle Of The Sun.

At a subterranean level, “The Lyre of Orpheus” is also an exploration into the physics of sound, with pulsating difference tones informing its underlying structures. Gubaidulina explains: “One can conceive of an imaginary pulsating space where the pulsation of the difference tones corresponds to the sounding intervals. Projected onto the tonal area which we can perceive, a specific correlation is formed between this pulsation and the sounding interval which produces the difference tone. One can experience this correspondence in an artistic work as a metaphor for a profound correlation between processes taking place in time and processes within the sound world, but also as a pronounced factor of formal organization.” [source]

Gubaidulina’s music is marked by the use of unusual instrumental combinations. In Erwartung combines percussion (bongos, güros,temple blocks, cymbals and tam-tams among others), bayan and saxophone quartet.

For Gubaidulina, music was an escape from the socio-political atmosphere of Soviet Russia. For this reason, she associated music with human transcendence and mystical spiritualism, which manifests itself as a longing inside the soul of humanity to locate its true being, a longing she continually tries to capture in her works. These abstract religious and mystical associations are concretized in Gubaidulina’s compositions in various ways. Gubaidulina is a convinced Russian-Orthodox believer. The influence of electronic music and improvisational techniques is exemplified in her unusual combination of contrasting elements, novel instrumentation, and the use of traditional Russian folk instruments in her solo and chamber works, such as De profundis for bayan, Et expecto- Sonata for bayan, and In croce for cello and organ or bayan.

Another influence of improvisation techniques can be found in her fascination with percussion instruments. She associates the indeterminate nature of percussive timbres with the mystical longing and the potential freedom of human transcendence.

A profoundly religious person, Gubaidulina defines “re-ligio” as re-legato or as restoration of the connection between oneself and the Absolute. She finds this re-connection through the artistic process and has developed a number of musical symbols to express her ideals. She does it through narrower means of intervallic and rhythmic relationship within the primary material of her works, by seeking to discover the depth and mysticism of the sound, as well as on a larger scale, through carefully thought architecture of musical form.

Gubaidulina notes that the two composers to whom she experiences a constant devotion are J.S. Bach and Webern. Among some non-musical influences of considerable import are Carl Jung (Swiss thinker and founder of analytical psychology) and Nikolaj Aleksandrovich Berdiaey (Russian religious philosopher, whose works were forbidden in USSR, but nevertheless found and studied by the composer). [source]

[allmusic review]

Gideon Kremer – violin
Marta Sudraba – cello
The Kremerata Baltica