Monday, March 12, 2012

Avro Pärt — Alina (1999)

Arvo Pärt is an Estonian composer who is doing religious music differently from what we are used to hear. His style is often described as sacred minimalism. He invented a technique of composition called tintinnabuli (from the latin tintinnabulum, meaning a bell)The technique is inspired by a choral chants involving two voices answering each other.

Most of the composer's work is choral but this is a piano recording with some touches of violin and cello. Arvo Pärt himself was present for the making of this recording. The choice of the pieces, the order in with they appear and the minimalist cover design typical of ECM recordings, everything is just great.

In contrast with the very powerful choral recording, this music is very delicate. There is a lot of use of silence as the piano notes vibrates. This is quiet, introspective music. Listening to this album you have the impression that every note played makes sense, everything is in a perfect order and harmony.


  1. He's the ultimate, and my very favorite! A true mystic. His music is timeless, sounding both modern and ancient simultaneously. He does have a number of instrumental pieces of incredible beauty.

    The first piece of his I ever heard was his Passio, in 1988 or '89, and it completely blew my mind. I've really never been the same since! A few years later I saw a live performance of it in Chicago (with the Hilliard Ensemble, who perform much of his work on ECM) which was nothing short of inspirational.

    (Skip the early part of his career, when he was experimenting with 12-tone scales, serial music and such.)

    1. I'll have a look at Passio, all of the Pärt recordings I heard from the Hiliard Ensemble on ECM are great. I'm starting to like the chorals very much, but I prefer his instrumental pieces like Alina and Tabula Rasa

    2. What can one say about such things? It's incredible stuff. Tabula Rasa is a personal fave, other instrumentals which I love are Fratres and Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten. Simply amazing.