Vox Clamantis, Cello8ctet Amsterdam and the Parco della Musica Contemporanea Ensemble
Throughout his career Pärt has often revisited his own earlier compositions and created new versions, scored for different instruments giving the pieces an entirely different and sometimes surprising feel, and yesterday's intimate evening in Sala Petrassi showcased several recent variations. The Parco della Musica Contemporanea Ensemble opened the concert with an exquisite version of Für Alina performed by Oscar Pizzo on the piano and flautist Manuel Zurria playing an extremely unusual instrument, but one which lent itself beautifully to Pärt's tintinnabuli style – a set of tuned wine glasses. Zurria would return later on during the concert to play the flute part in a new version of Estländler and a third time, with another less conventional instrument - a set of tuned bottles, played as a wind instrument - in a mesmerizing version of Pari Intervallo. In this, the title composition of the evening, he was once again joined by Pizzo on the piano using Mauro Bagella's P.O.P.System (Piano Overtones Production System) where the piano had been “programmed” as it were, in order to modify pitch and timbre depending on the harmonic sounds. The piano lid, in fact, was raised to reveal a complicated series of rods attached to the strings. Percussionist Fulvia Ricevuto added one final, yet essential ingredient to this piece – the rolling hypnotic sound of the bass marimba.
Pärt is strongly associated with holy minimalist music inspired by Gregorian chants and the group Vox Clamantis, a world famous Estonian vocal group, who perform early polyphony and contemporary minimalist music, were absolutely stunning during the sacred songs, such as the utterly captivating Most Holy Mother of God. He has also composed extensively for the cello and last night the vocalists were joined on stage by Cello8ctet Amsterdam, an eight piece cello ensemble, for two of the sacred pieces - Alleluia-Tropus and the enthralling concert closer Da Pacem Domine. It was an absolute joy to hear Summa, one of Arvo Pärt's most elegantly beautiful compositions, twice last night – once by the cello ensemble and later by two male and two female voices from Vox Clamantis (it was originally written in 1978 for four solo voices).
The performers received rapturous applause at the close of the evening and returned for what was genuine “encore” – a repeat performance of Alleluia-Tropus.
A wonderful concert!
Für Alina (new version)
Alleluia-Tropus (for voices and cellos)
Summa (for cellos)
And One of the Pharisees (for voices)
Missa brevis (Italian debut – for cellos)
Estländler (new version)
Summa (for voices)
O-Antiphonen (for cellos)
Most Holy Mother of God (Italian debut – for voices)
Pari Intervallo (new version for piano, tuned bottles and bass marimba)
Da Pacem Domine (for voices and cellos)