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Arvo Part: Alina

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Audio CD, February 1, 2000
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Product Details

  • Performer: Dietmar Schwalke, Alexander Malter, Vladimir Spivakov, Sergei Bezrodny
  • Composer: Arvo Part
  • Audio CD (February 1, 2000)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: ECM Records
  • Run Time: 51.24 minutes
  • ASIN: B000024HL1
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #20,540 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Spiegel im Spiegel
2. Für Alina
3. Spiegel im Spiegel
4. Für Alina
5. Spiegel im Spiegel

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Arvo P„rt's Alina follows a simple-enough formula. Two stark instrumental works from the master of holy minimalism repeat each other, each time slightly different. But the blissful results--quiet, haunting, and thoroughly hypnotizing--meld to create one of classical music's best albums of 2000. It's as intense and sublime as contemporary classical music can be.

This is a remarkable release, both for its beauty and its novelty at programming. Für Alina is a two-minute solo piano piece composed by Pärt in l976 that ushered in his "tintinnabuli" style, that is, the bell-like, simple, no-notes-wasted method for which he has become beloved and famous. On this CD, pianist Alexander Malter plays it twice, as the second and fourth tracks; each iteration takes almost 11 minutes (Pärt assumed it would be embellished, and he chose this pair for the CD). There are minute variations in tempo, emphasis, and rubato from one to the other, but, all that being said, it amounts to 22 minutes of the most beautiful, contemplative music ever performed. Almost equally gentle is Spiegel im Spiegel, played as tracks 1, 3 and 5 and scored for piano and, respectively, violin, cello, and then violin again. The instruments mirror one another (Spiegel is German for mirror), with notes added to the scale with each repetition, and so on. Almost impossible to describe in its loveliness, each of the three sets is beautiful; the cello in track 3 gives it extra mellowness. This is music staggering in its simple complexity and a treat for the ear and heart. --Robert Levine

Customer Reviews

It's beautiful, simply beautiful.
Cordel W. Harris
All I know is that it is one of the most important works I own, and that I will return to it often for the rest of my life.
It is one of the most beautiful pieces of music I have ever heard.
Jochem Roukema

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

134 of 138 people found the following review helpful By Moses Alexander on November 16, 2001
Format: Audio CD
It took me a little while to get "into" this CD. This is simplicity to the maximum. I don't like calling this music "minimalism" because that to me insinuates minimal cerebral content. This disc is totally the opposite of that...there's so much to chew on here that its astonishing.
The melody is absolutely gorgeous and almost forces one into instrospection and contemplation. This album is very cleansing for me as I almost wind up in tears every time I put it on. This fills a very import space in music today in my opinion. So much of today's classical music is cacophonous, dissonant, filled with aural "fireworks" or just plain weird (I have no problems with any of those things.) This however, is none of those things. It is calm, simple, beautiful and still. Our world doesn't stand still enough. This isn't sappy or new age (both things which I can't stand) its just simple and good.
The disc does have an odd configuration. "Spiegel Im Spiegel" is on the disc three times. Once with cello & piano and twice with violin & piano. "Fur Alina" a piece for solo piano is on there twice. The program notes are interesting in that "Fur Alina" was actually a several hour improvisation, and Part himself selected two phases from it to insert between the three renditions of "Spiegel Im Spiegel."
This to me, really heightens the difference between the two pieces. I think there a lot of metaphysical overtones with the pieces (i.e. life's phases, etc.) Considering these were some of Part's first works after his self imposed silence, I think Part's new affinity for triads probably makes some allusions to Greek monk St. Gregory Palamas' book "Triads.
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87 of 95 people found the following review helpful By Cordel W. Harris on February 20, 2000
Format: Audio CD
I have had a hard time coming up with words for this CD. It is probably the most beautiful work of music I own. I am not exaggerating. The tintinnabuli style has an ephemeral feel to which other works only aspire.
I noticed after the third or fourth time listening to it that the silence is as essential to the music; I felt myself reaching for the next note. It's beautiful, simply beautiful.
I think of the movie The Hunger when I hear it, for that movie had piano and cello pieces in it also. The images that one saw in it, that of light and gossamer drapes floating go through my mind when I hear this.
This CD is worth anything one must pay to get it. It truly is a work of genius.
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37 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Robert Milne on November 16, 2002
Format: Audio CD
I would urge everyone to own this cd and it will soon own you too, heart and soul. I won't comment on the ad nauseum tintinnabulism or , god forbid , minimalism. The former just does
not apply here ( see Fratres, Festina lente, Summa, Cantus , etc.
--- all wonderful works --- for that). Alina is about as minimalist as , say , Fur Elise or Traumerei. But this is all about Spiegel im Spiegel, neither tinntinabulist nor minimalist, merely pure genius; perhaps the greatest short piece for violin and piano ( two lovers singing) in the 20th C. Heed the title : Mirror in Mirror : you'll be looking back at your yourself looking back and again until mesmerized by one of the most achingly beautiful pieces ever wrought. That is the good news. However none of these three interpretaions is the definitive one. If you like your beauty neat, you will, seek out PROU CD 139. Here Arvo Part is fully realized in all his splendour recorded in a chapel , fittingly, by Baltic musicians with other Baltic Music--- most noteably Schnittke's Violin Sonata #1. If this recording doesn't tear your eyes, you just aren't human. Alina is , yes, wonderful, but for the greatest S. im S reach further. It is worth it indeed !
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Nicholas Croft on February 9, 2005
Format: Audio CD
Arvo Part was born on September 11th, 1935 in Estonia. By his 27th year, he had graduated from the Tallinn Music Conservatory and was already composing conventional cantatas and oratorios. During his early years as a composer, however, he struggled with creative despair and entered two different periods of self-imposed silence. He emerged from this period of reflection, at the age of 41, having discovered a simple, heartfelt compositional method based on the three notes of a musical triad: tintinnabuli (from the Latin, little bells). A short work for piano, "For Alina", was the first piece that introduced this new compositional style to Part's listening public.

Two years later, "Mirror in Mirror" was written, continuing what was to become Part's signature approach to authoring new music. On this ECM compact disc, "Alina", we are offered an extended meditation on these two starkly contemplative compositions. The musical intention here might be to calm listeners and provide a sonic atmosphere of quiet repose. Yet these works of "holy minimalism" may be better suited to reflective states that require a more engaged level of listener attention. It is a music that perhaps finds it's proper home within the zeitgeist of contemporary independent cinema or postmodern dance.

There is undeniable beauty in this recording, along with restrained feelings of sadness as well. One has the sense that this era of Part's music was born only after long periods of a solitary prayer life. That the music's beauty comes from the serenity found within that solitude, while it's sadness might originate in humanity's inadequate response to the dark mysteries of our time.

Part has said, "it is enough when a single note is beautifully played".
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