Today the Estonian composer Arvo Pärt — as bearded as Brahms — turns 80. “[H]ere’s where it’s easy to be fooled by preconceptions about Pärt’s work. To dismiss it as cliched and sentimental holy minimalism is simply wrong,” observes Tom Service in a smart intro to his work.
From my recent notes about Pärt and “the contemporary sublime” for a Los Angeles Master Chorale program last season:
This year the music world is celebrating a milestone anniversary for Arvo Pärt, who was born 80 years ago, on September 11, in the small Estonian town of Paide. Although he gravitated toward music quite early (at the age of seven), Pärt points out that in fact he “matured very late, and that back then I wasn’t in a position to find the path that might have led me toward what I was really looking for.”
Arvo Pärt has had a longterm partnership with producer Manfred Eicher and his label ECM, beginning with the pivotal release of Tabula Rasa. For the occasion, ECM is releasing Musica Selecta, a special two-CD collection of remastered ECM recordings of Pärt’s music curated by Eicher.
Per the label: “Musica Selecta proposes an optimal crash course in Pärt on ECM for the newcomer, and evokes fresh associations for the experienced listener with its juxtapositions of pieces, as we are invited to hear the music anew.”