Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Just Pärt of fiction


It had been performed in the great barn at Snape Maltings, of course ... Arvo Pärt, who was present only because his own work was being premiered the following day, sat in the row in front, dressed in a long, brown raincoat like a seedy French detective. He’d leaned forwards, a thumb buried in his huge dark beard, his balding head shining above the long hair, hunched and concentrated. He was all elbows, a lot thinner than Jack had expected, and kept nibbling the ends of his long fingers, too restless for an Old Testament prophet. His wife sat next to him, looking owl-like behind huge spectacles. She often spoke for him in interviews and Jack was more nervous about what she might say than of Pärt himself ...

Jack took a bow afterwards and then, once the clapping had subsided and the house lights had gone up, surveyed members of the audience from the side. Among the silvery, distinguished heads there was a lot of winking, a lot of confiding of patient fortitude and thin-lipped smirks, provoking a subtle mirth in the others.

In other words, they were laughing at it. At him. He preferred the old, limping dowager he overheard in the bar: ‘The usual awful tripe. Not nearly up to Messiaen. But one has to keep abreast of things, doesn’t
one?’

No sign of Pärt.
Another extract from Adam Thorpe's novel Between Each Breath which featured here recently and which is partly set in Estonia. Arvo Pärt seems to be the current composer of choice for the literary set and his music also features in Tim Winton's award winning novel Dirt Music which is set in Australia. Header image is one of the very few ECM CDs not to feature out-of-focus black and white photography. Alina is ECM's essential 1999 collection of Pärt's sparsely beautiful music for violin, cello and piano, and the title work Für Alina provides a leitmotif for Adam Thorpe's novel. Recommended listening if you still need proof of Pärt's revelation that 'I have discovered that it is enough when a single note is beautifully played'.

Now read about Arvo Pärt's contemporary classic, Passio.
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3 comments:

Marc said...

Oh, come now! None of Keith Jarrett's ECM recordings feature out-of-focus b/w photography, do they? Or Kim Kashkashian's? Perhaps I'm buying the wrong ECM albums all these years?

Pliable said...

Marc, Keith Jarrett

The Melody at Night With You -

http://bp0.blogger.com/_JxuUgIanNOo/R77G3j_2c2I/AAAAAAAAAkc/e6I3hwFl9Po/s1600-h/%255BAllCDCovers%255D_keith_jarrett.jpg

Radiance -

http://ouriel.typepad.com/myblog/radiance.jpg

Facing You

http://blog.roodo.com/peaceland/d545b524.jpg

They are the first three I pulled off my shelf. I agree other older Jarrett releases use in-focus photography, My Song, Dark Intervals etc. But the fuzzy virus has spread to Jarrett land.

Marc said...

Ah, you got me. My mind leaps to the typeface recordings - Vienna, La Scala, etc. I think it's time to call a meeting with Manfred Eicher.