The Estonian composer Arvo PÃ¤rt has become a favorite in concert halls and on classical music recordings. But even in a very crowded field, this collection stakes its place, with some of PÃ¤rt’s finest works, in performances featuring the Tapiola Sinfoniette and the pianist Alexei Lubimov, both sympathetic interpreters of the composer’s appealing, tintinnabulary works. PÃ¤rt’s best-known piece, “Fratres,” exists in more than a dozen arrangements, but the combination of strings and softly thudding percussion presented here is perhaps the most effective. This recording is noticeably faster than most — a welcome change as PÃ¤rt’s reputation as a musical mystic has led to ever-slower performances of his work.
Two other longtime favorites are recorded here: “Tabula Rasa,” for two violins, prepared piano and strings, is a hypnotic set of musical themes that cycle through in ever-lengthening loops. (Comparisons to Brian Eno’s Music For Airports might not be as crazy as they first seem.) The first movement is built around a dramatic, falling example of PÃ¤rt’s bell-ringing approach to composition (again, Eno comparisons are surprisingly apropos), while the second movement is a gently rocking, swaying soundscape that is one of PÃ¤rt’s most enduring creations.
Other Arvo PÃ¤rt “hits” here include the “Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten,” a lush, harmonically static piece of ambient orchestral music; and “Spiegel Im Spiegel,” or “Mirror in a Mirror,” an ethereal work for violin over a tolling piano. Two choral works, both relatively brief, offer another perspective on the composer: “The Beatitudes,” for choir and organ, is a rare foray into setting English, and may contain some echoes of Anglican sacred music, while “Magnificat,” one of PÃ¤rt’s many Latin settings, is a typically lambent work for a cappella chorus.