Arvo Pärt: Tabula Rasa

Arvo Pärt: Tabula Rasa

Inspired by Gregorian chant, Renaissance polyphony, and plainsong, the so-called “mystic minimalism” of Estonian composer Arvo Pärt forever changed the landscape of contemporary classical music. Pärt found a broad audience with this groundbreaking 1984 release, which was overseen by visionary classical and jazz producer Manfred Eicher and released on the newly formed ECM New Series label. Combining the stark beauty of early music with contemporary minimalism, the recording brings "Fratres" in two forms—a haunting piano and violin duet performed by Keith Jarrett and Gidon Kremer and a swirling arrangement played by 12 Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic. The sorrowful "Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten” is set against the distant tolling bells; their ghostly, nautical sound bidding a somber farewell to the British composer known for his love of the sea. The double concerto "Tabula Rasa" is both mathematically precise and profoundly moving, with Kremer and fellow violinist Tatjana Grindenko developing exquisite melodic patterns over Alfred Schnittke's prepared piano and a subtle—yet thunderously powerful—string chamber orchestra. In the words of Eicher, the recording marks “a truly electrifying encounter between the most unconventional stylists and protagonists of contemporary classical music and jazz.”

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