As it is played here, the complete piano music of Arvo Pärt takes about two hours to perform and fits neatly on these two Brilliant Classics CDs. I’ve qualified this statement with “as it is played here” because some of the music is rather improvisatory, leaving much to the discretion of the performer. In the case of the major work on the program, Für Alina, this includes the duration. Framing the rest of the program, pianist Jeroen van Veen has recorded two versions of this important piece.
Pärt’s piano music was composed over a period of some fifty years, spanning practically the entire creative life of the composer. His output falls into three distinct periods. First is his early Neoclassical phase, exemplified by the Sonatinas and Partita that open disc two of this set. During his middle period, he began experimenting with techniques associated with the Soviet avant-garde – twelve-tone serialism and an increasing atonality for example. It is fascinating to note that at this juncture, Pärt lost interest in extreme avant-garde techniques and fell into a silent stage when, for eight years, he occupied himself with an intense study of plainchant and ancient vocal music. He was to emerge from this self-imposed silence into his third and final stage, one which we associate with his mature works. Arvo Pärt is considered a pioneer, along with contemporaries John Tavener and Henryk Górecki, of a style combining spiritualism with minimalism and a certain unification of ancient and modern techniques.
The piano music on this set comes from the composer’s early and late periods. Perhaps what is the most significant aspect of Pärt’s late period is what the composer Simeon ten Holt referred to as “the rebirth of tonality after its death”. Pärt’s piano music generally makes for very undemanding listening. Being among the most performed contemporary classical composers in the world today, Arvo Pärt’s piano music is an area many serious listeners will want to get to know. With this Brilliant Classics two-CD set, you can get it all in one convenient package, beautifully performed and recorded.
Estonian composer Arvo Pärt is a unique figure in the musical world. The utter simplicity of his works, inspired by his deep religious feelings, has a strange, hypnotic power over the listener. Confronted with the stark, naked and essential musical lines, one feels close to the inner truth of oneself and the other, a human bond which only music can bring.
No wonder the music of Pärt, the cult figure, reaches beyond the boundaries of traditional classical audiences. Many recordings of Pärt achieve a bestselling status.
Played by the champion of Minimal Music, Jeroen van Veen, who recorded for Brilliant Classics several collections of minimalist piano music, and the complete piano music of Philip Glass.
Arvo Pärt (Born 11 September 1935) is an Estonian composer of classical and sacred music. Since the late 1970s, Pärt has worked in a minimalist style that employs his self-invented compositional technique, tintinnabuli. His music is in part inspired by Gregorian chant. As of 2013, Pärt has been the most performed contemporary composer in the world for three years in a row.
Jeroen Van Veen
Dutch pianist and composer, Jeroen van Veen, the leading exponent of minimalism in Holland today – Alan Swanson (Fanfare)
Jeroen Van Veen (1969) started playing the piano at the age of 7. He studied at the Utrecht Conservatory with Alwin Bär and Håkon Austbö. In 1993 he passed the Performing Artists’ Exam. Van Veen has played with orchestras conducted by Howard Williams, Peter Eötvös, Neal Stulberg and Robert Craft. He has played recitals in Austria, Belgium, Canada, England, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Russia & the USA.