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Part: Tabula Rasa; Symphony No. 3; Collage

3.9 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Pärt: Tabula Rasa & Symphony No. 3
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Audio CD, January 16, 2001
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Editorial Reviews

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Along with Fratres, Tabula Rasa is easily the most popular instrumental composition that Estonian composer Arvo Pärt has ever penned. It's no wonder, either. This swirling double concerto for violins, string section, and piano is crammed with sonic drama, as well as quiet moments, making it the perfect showpiece for the composer's meditative tintinnabuli style of composition. Violinists Leslie Hatfield and Rebecca Hirsch deliver an electrifying performance of this work that easily stands alongside interpretations by Gidon Kremer (to whom this piece was dedicated) and others. Compared with Kremer's recordings, the prepared piano sounds a bit muted here, but this is a minor qualm--the violins and Ulster Orchestra steal the show. Going back in time, Collage uber BACH dates from 1964 and shows us how far Pärt's compositional style has evolved over the decades. Dense string textures give way to brief allusions of Bach, though the piece is thoroughly indebted to serialism. Symphony No. 3 from 1971 is one of the composer's lesser-recorded masterpieces, which is a shame because it shows the composer at a crossroads, incorporating elements of modernism, Gregorian chant, and polyphony. The resulting work sounds epic, gripping, and reflective, but ends with an unexpected last gasp of excitement.

Pärt fans won't need much convincing to buy this disc; these are great performances. But every classical CD collection should have at least one disc by the master of "holy minimalism" (and so much more), and this budget-priced disc is just about the perfect introduction to the composer's instrumental works. --Edward Garabedian

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Product Details

  • Performer: Lesley Hatfield, Rebecca Hirsch
  • Orchestra: Ulster Orchestra
  • Conductor: Takuo Yuasa
  • Composer: Arvo Part
  • Audio CD (January 16, 2001)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Naxos
  • ASIN: B000050XA0
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #261,700 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
This time Naxos didn't make too happy. This cd is actually the perfect introduction to Part's music, featuring three of the four steps in the evolution of this composer. In the beginning Part was a stark, albeit very individual, serialist ( mercifully, this aspect is not documented here), then he began to introduce neo-classical elements in his music, with Bach' s severe spirituality as a beacon. This second phase ("collage" style) is documented by the masterful "Bach" collage, a piece that, despite the name, does not sound derivative or patchy at all. It's a little suite that somewhat sounds like Baroque, but at the same time sounds unmistakably modern, especially in the 2nd movement, which starts most gently and then starts to... how could I say? .. growl and snarl like a genetic mutation? (listen and you'll understand what I mean, I promise!) In the following phase Part entirely reverted to Neo-Classical manners, but in a sacred/ancient mood
more than baroque. Although clearly transitional, the 3rd sym. is very good, with a distinct Stravinskian flavour. Finally Part concentrated his styles in the current "tintinnabuli" style, here represented by the magisterial "Tabula Rasa". It's a piece in 2 movements, for string orchestra and "prepared" piano (which sounds like bells, hence the "tintinnabuli" word), where all the Part's better known trademarks are present: alternation of music and (expressive) silences, utterly refined string string textures, a rarefied spirituality and, above all, a sense of timelessness. I know some find it too "minimal" (i.e. boring), I think it's just music that requires a degree of emotional consonance.
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By A Customer on February 12, 2004
Format: Audio CD
This was the first recording of Tabula Rasa I had heard, and was absolutely blown away, until I heard the Gidon Kremer version on ECM. It's almost a different piece of music. The emotional tone on the ECM captures the extreme tension and beauty of the piece in a way the Naxos fails to do. Also, I know there is a prepared piano here, but I can't detect it -- the atmosphere is augmented immeasurably on the ECM where it is clearly audible. I have been on the whole extremely satisfied with Naxos recordings, but wonder now what I might be missing on others. The Collage uber BACH and 3rd Symphony here are stunning and not to be missed (but then, I haven't heard any other versions yet). Altogether a great introduction to Part's music at the price.
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Format: Audio CD
This CD is a great introduction to the range of Arvo Pärt's compositions. The Collage Uber BACH is one of the more "listenable" (i.e., not dissonant) works from Pärt's early period. The prepared piano in this version of "Tabula Rasa" is less forward than on the ECM version; not inferior, just different. For me at least, the odd sound of the prepared piano on the ECM disk can be distracting. I don't presume to know the composer's intentions, but as Pärt's works often premiere on ECM, and the piece was written for Gidon Kremer, the ECM version is probably the "correct" one. However, if you want to hear how Tabula Rasa sounds with heavier emphasis on the strings, this is a good opportunity.

The highlight of this disk is the 3rd Symphony. Eschewing the dissonance that characterized his 1st and especially 2nd symphonies, Pärt achieves a level of power and even violence without resorting to deliberate ugliness. It was composed before the end of his pre-tintinnabuli period, and as far as I know, the only other recording is a BIS disk also containing his first two symphonies.

This is a magnificent performance and not to be missed, especially at this price.
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Format: Audio CD
my first thought was that i really don't need another version of part's classic tabula rasa. but at the naxos price, why not?
the performance of the title piece is superb, well up there with ECM recordings of the 80's which first introduced me to part's music.
the fun of discovery lies with the other two compositions- both are before part's signature tintinnabuli style, but still very enjoyable on their own terms. "collage uber bach" is alternately serene and angry. "symphony #3" (described in the liner notes as "transitional") is beautiful, but the liner notes mention another work of the same period that the composer had "withdrawn". argh.
as usual naxos has done a great job on packaging, liner notes and all the little details. my only complaint would be the short CD length, a mere 52 minutes.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The theological bent of Arvo Part, like that of John Taverner in England, puts me off, although it's the very thing that attracts his huge following. The air of hushed mysticism, reverence, and neo-medieval sanctity holds a superficial appeal, but I rarely hear substance beneath. It's like ecclesiastical dress-up. But if Part's mature style lays claim to a lasting work, Tabula Rasa must be it. Even in this fairly pedestrian reading on Naxos the listener's attention is held in a way that other advanced minimalists like John Adams also manage to achieve.

I actually bought this CD for Sym. #3, which riveted me in live performance at the Royal Ballet in Lodon. Without dancers, however, tPart's 'sound drama,' as the Amazon reviewer calls it, starts to flag, and the slack reading by the Ulster orchestra under Yuasa doesn't help matters. I don't understand the Amazon reviewer's swooning rave, but Part is a cult composer, and those who love his music are fierce in their devotion (as ditto Taverner). Of one thing there's no doubt: this is easily assimilable music whose sound world makes few demands.
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