Tasmin Little

Arvo Pärt: Tabula Rasa; Fratres; Spiegel im Spiegel; Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten

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This disc of music by Arvo Pärt offers a generous representative sampling of his orchestral and chamber works from early in his holy minimalist (or, as he preferred, tintinnabuli) phase, mostly from the late 1970s but some as late as 1990. The pieces include some of his most popular works, notably Fratres (which exists in nearly a dozen incarnations), Spiegel in Spiegel (of which there are nearly half as many versions), Summa, and Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten. Fratres, Spiegel in Spiegel, and Tabula rasa, the concerto of two violins and prepared piano, feature the elegant English violinist Tasmin Little. The violin and piano version of Fratres may be its least compelling arrangement, but Little and pianist Martin Roscoe make a strong case for it, giving it real life and fire. They are equally effective in the hyper-serene Spiegel in Spiegel, one of Pärt's first ventures into the new simplicity that was to become his trademark musical language. Little, violinist Richard Studt, and Robert Aldwinckle on prepared piano, accompanied by Studt and the Bournemouth Sinfonietta, find the poetry and mystery in the sparely scored Tabula rasa. Studt and the orchestra maintain the elusive balance between calm and urgency required in Festina lente (Make Haste Slowly). EMI's sound is clean and full, with good resonance throughout.

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