Ralph van Raat, Pärt: Piano Music

Steve Holtje

By Steve Holtje

on 10.12.11 in Reviews

This album features Lamentate: Homage to Anish Kapoor and his sculpture “Marsyas” (2002) for piano and orchestra, Pärt’s biggest work featuring piano since Tabula Rasa (1977), but is most valuable for the six solo pieces. The infrequently heard Two Sonatinas, Op. 1 (1958-59) and Partita, Op. 2, date from Pärt’s college years and show a Shostakovich/Prokofiev influence soon abandoned. Though atypical, on their own terms they’re characterful and well-crafted.

A stylistic cross-section of Pärt’s career

Everything else here comes from much later. “Für Alina” (1976) is familiar from one of ECM’s Pärt albums; both Raat’s interpretation and Naxos’s less loaded presentation allow it to be a charmingly simple, unassuming piece rather than be freighted with historical baggage. Even more charmingly simple, but fairly unfamiliar, is Variations on the Recovery of Arinuschka (1977); “Für Anna Maria” (2006) offers the first recording of a cute miniature — Pärt completists take note!

Falletta and Raat offer a warmer, more emotive alternative to ECM’s starker premiere recording of Lamentate. There’s more complexity here (thicker textures, dissonant harmonies), so there’s plenty of room for interpretive variety. Aside from missing Pärt’s serial period, this album offers a stylistic cross-section of his career. Raat’s warm, cleanly inflected pianism fits all of Pärt’s styles effectively.