, December 2000
"This astonishing disc contains three works by Estonian composer Arvo Pärt (b. 1935), works that represent the three major stages in his career. Even though his composition teacher was Heino Eller (who in turn had studied under Glazunov), Part never was much taken by neo-romanticism. Instead, he was more taken with neoclassicism, which led him to invent his own brand of serialism. Collage über BACH comes from Pärt's serial/collage period. It's a brief gem (at seven minutes) and will remind some listeners of Alfred Schnittke's work, particularly the second movement, which begins in a rather benign way, then grows hair, a set of teeth, and starts to growl.
"During the 1970s Pärt abandoned serialism and began a study of Gregorian chant, polyphony, and medieval plainsong. His highly polyphonic Symphony No. 3 is representative of this period. Tabula Rasa, a double concerto for two violins, string orchestra, and prepared piano, comes from Pärt's third stage of development and represents his so-called "tintinnabuli" style. This is one of Pärt's most performed works, and for good reason: it's transcendently beautiful. Its hypnotic aura is marked by syncopated lines from the two violins with the rest of the strings trailing underneath, creating a church-bell effect. The performances on this disc are absolutely first rate, particularly from the two violinists in Tabula Rasa, Leslie Hatfield and Rebecca Hirsch. Credit also goes to the Ulster Orchestra and conductor Takuo Yuasa who take to all three pieces with both care for the written score and flair for the particular style. This is the perfect introductory disc to Pärt's music--and above all, no one's collection of 20th century music should be without this performance of Tabula Rasa."