Arvo Pärt - Summa | The Auditorium, Rome | 23 January, 2010

A week long series of events dedicated to the Estonian composer Arvo Pärt - Diario dell'anima – opened yesterday at the Auditorium Parco della Musica with a concert performed by the Parco della Musica Contemporanea Ensemble in the presence of the maestro himself and conducted by his charismatic fellow Estonian Tonu Kaljuste. The setting of Sala Petrassi, the smaller of the three main concert halls, lent the evening an intimacy which was perfect for Part's minimalist and meditative music, with a programme of compositions that served as a marvellous Arvo Pärt primer, as well as an introduction to the festival itself.

The concert opened with the first of several special variations of early works, the hypnotic string quartet version of Summa; the haunting version of Fratres scored for four percussionists made its Italian debut, whilst the version of Spiegel im Spiegel, one of Part's most borrowed compositions for film and television, was performed for the first time ever with a score for bass flute and piano, written specifically for PMCE lead flautist Manuel Zurria. There were works for voice as well – again an entirely new version of Zwei Wiegenlieder – and L’Abbé Agathon, the most recent of the compositions performed, sung by soprano Arianna Savall, the crystalline purity of whose voice enthralled me.

The evening closed to rapturous applause with the composer stepping nimbly up onto the stage to join the performers for several curtain calls. Seeming in no hurry to leave the hall he spent some time shaking the hands of well wishers and even signed some autographs for admirers. A wonderful evening!

Click here for further details of forthcoming events in Diario dell'anima. Omaggio a Arvo Pärt.

  • Summa (string quartet version)
  • L’Abbé Agathon
  • Spiegel im Spiegel (new version)
  • Scala Cromatica
  • Mozart Adagio
  • Es sang vor langen Jahren
  • Fratres (Schlagzeuger) (percussion version)
  • Zwei Wiegenlieder (new version)