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Arvo Pärt

Year: 1990, 52+74 mins
Code: AH-Arvo
ISBN: 807280911596

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The Early Years – A Film by Dorian Supin 
The Estonian Arvo Pärt is widely regarded as one of today’s most original creators of music. Largely self-taught, he is remote from the mainstream of the contemporary avant-garde. Much of his music is bound up with sacred texts and has a shimmeringly mystical, devotional quality, underscored by the use of Renaissance harmonizations, medieval melodic techniques and even Gregorian chant. His work was described in the “Financial Times” as “Music of a magical stillness, the work of a very distinctive creative voice, almost impossible to classify, who seems to have appeared without obvious historical progenitors.” Film of rehearsals, recording sessions and concert performances is interwoven with more intimate footage of Pärt with his family. Music featured in the programmes includes Pärt’s „Miserere“, „Cantus“, „Pari Intervallo“ and Eri Klas conducting „Credo“ and „Festina Lente“. 

St. John Passion – Live from Durham Cathedral, 1988 
Although the „St. John Passion“ by Arvo Pärt was written in 1981, it recalls the purity and timelessness of the great musical Passions of the seventeenth century. „The Passion“ takes chapters eighteen and nineteen of the Gospel According to St. John, telling of Jesus being taken from the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter’s denial of Christ, the trial in front of Pilate, the crowd’s insistence that Christ should be crucified and His death upon the cross

Soloists: John Potter, Michael George, Mary Seers, David James, Rogers Covey-Crump, Gordon Jones
Orchestra, Chorus: The Hilliard Ensemble, The Western Wind Choir
Conductor: Paul Hiller
Director: Dorian Supin

"Growing up in communist Estonia, Pärt found himself at odds with the regime on pretty well every aesthetic and spiritual level. He wrote Estonia's first ever serial piece, Nekrolog, in 1960, whose dissonance and expressionist intensity that will shock you if you know Pärt only from his later music! At that time, he experimented with collage, with neo-classicism, and with aggressive dissonance, in ways that were bound to alienate him from the Soviet authorities but which began to bring him respect in the west. Pärt's modernist credentials were cemented in his First and Second symphonies, but a crisis came in 1968 with his Credo, a work in which at least three worlds collide. Credo was an attempt to symbolise his frustration with what had become, for him, the dry, desiccated, "children's games" of the avant garde, a world of purity represented by tonality and a quotation from Bach, and a setting of a religious text. The piece only avoided censure by the communists because its conductor, Neeme Järvi, didn't show the score to the Estonian composers' union before its premiere. And at its first performance, the piece was a lightning rod for protest against the regime, both because of its musical extremity and its religious conviction." (Tom Service,The Guardian)

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