Arvo Pärt: Tabula Rasa

Renaud Capuçon / Lausanne Chamber Orchestra

(Digital Download - Erato / Warner Classics #null)

Review by James Manheim

Violinist Renaud Capuçon is known best for mainstream French Romantic repertory and not so much for the minimalist Arvo Pärt or other contemporary music. Since assuming the conductorship of the Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne, however, he has stated a desire to pursue new directions, and this collection of Pärt's works certainly fills the bill. The pieces range in time from the 1970s to the 2000s decade and could meet the need of someone in search of an overview of Pärt's work in the minimalist style. Some of the works feature a solo violin, and in these, Capuçon both plays and conducts. The writing here is not conventionally virtuosic, but it has its challenges for the player, often residing in the instrument's top register for uncomfortable lengths of time. Capuçon cultivates a sparkling hard edge in these passages, and in the duo concerto-like Tabula Rasa, one of the first fruits of Pärt's new tintinnabuli style in the 1970s, the duo passages with second soloist François Sochard appealingly ring with secondary tones. All the pieces feature the Lausanne orchestra except for the limpid Spiegel im Spiegel, heard here in its original violin-and-piano version. That performance, with pianist Guillaume Bellom, has seen a certain amount of viral spread in online media, testimony to the appeal of this fine album for anyone from newcomers to Pärt to those with substantial collections of his music.

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