Arvo Pärt's early works may not immediately appeal to fans of the meditative, tonal music he composed after 1976, but they spell out his profound conflicts with the avant-garde and the soul-searching that led to his simplified, "tintinnabular" style. Pro et Contra is a quizzical concerto for cello and orchestra in which tonal and atonal elements clash to jarring effect and add to the tension between the struggling cello part and the chaotic orchestral accompaniment. The two-movement Symphony No. 1, "Polyphonic," employs dense, dissonant counterpoint in its canons and fugal finale, and is serial in language but formally comprehensible. The Collage über BACH alternates between furious modernism and orderly Baroque pastiche, but the Perpetuum Mobile lashes out violently without any stylistic references to impede its relentless progress. Overtly tonal and brightly scored, Meie Aed is a cheerful cantata with only a few touches of bitonality to disturb its old-fashioned, Romantic mood. The Symphony No. 2 is the most challenging work, highly disruptive and fierce except for a deceptive moment of calm in its puzzling finale. Cellist Truls Mørk, the Ellerhein Girls' Choir, and the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, led by Paavo Järvi, are absolutely committed in their performances, and Virgin's vivid sound encompasses the full frequency range.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Pro et contra, concerto for cello & orchestra|
|Symphony No. 1 ("Polyphonic"), Op. 9|
|Collage over B-A-C-H, for strings, oboe, harpsichord & piano|
|Meie aed (Our garden), cantata for children's choir & orchestra, Op. 3|
|Symphony No. 2|