09.11.2023 | Latest

ECM is home to Arvo Pärt’s music

Music and word: In Arvo Pärt’s work, they are manifestly at its core, even when no word is heard, no text has been set to music, but the power of language becomes the subject nonetheless.           – Wolfgang Sandner

The new Arvo Pärt album Tractus is released tomorrow, 10 November.

It emphasizes Arvo Pärt compositions that blend the timbres of string orchestra and choir. New versions predominate, with focused performances from the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra and the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir under Tõnu Kaljuste’s direction that invite alert and concentrated listening. From the opening composition Littlemore Tractus, which takes as its starting point consoling reflections from a sermon by John Henry Newman, the idea of change, transfiguration and renewal resonates, setting a tone for a recording whose character is one of summing up, looking inward, and reconciling with the past.

The close collaboration between Arvo Pärt and producer Manfred Eicher has persisted now for forty years and was initiated with the powerful Tabula Rasa, which first brought Pärt’s music to widespread attention. In celebration of ECM’s 50th anniversary, the Arvo Pärt centre published an article by Immo Mihkelson, in which the author shines a light on the long-standing partnership between the musician and the producer.

An excerpt from the article:

Surely, what happened with “Fratres” was no accident. Eicher can be described as a restless person who is constantly searching for miracles in music and around it. He admits that to do this he has to constantly look around and peek under many rocks, figuratively speaking. “The first miracle happens when someone conceives music in their imagination. Another occurs when it gets recorded well. And then you have to introduce that music to people. You have to find the right way to do it.”

The composer perceived this awareness in the sounds which Manfred Eicher was in some inexplainable way able capture and record on tape. After all, it was his own work that it had happened to. He had been recording other people’s music for years and knew how difficult it was to succeed in achieving a recording true to the natural sound.

Arvo Pärt: “I felt that he was me and I was him. Music is like your flesh and blood. When you have composed the music yourself, you will feel the sound coming from the speaker in a completely different way. Because this life, this spirit that is already put in the score at the time of writing gives a completely different perspective to the recorded sound. You hear it in thousands of different nuances. Not just as monophonic or in stereo. And that said, I was not only surprised, but also happy to realise that Manfred’s sense of music that was new to him was as deep and rich as that of the author. And the two of us always shaped that sound and searched for it.”

Continue reading the full article here

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