Arvo Pärt: ‘Für Anna Maria’ – Complete Piano Music / Jeroen Van Veen

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As it is played here, the complete piano music of Arvo Pärt takes about two hours to perform and fits neatly on these two Brilliant Classics CDs. I've qualified this statement with "as it is played here" because some of the music is rather improvisatory, leaving much to the discretion of the performer. In the case of the major work on the program, Für Alina, this includes the duration. Framing the rest of the program, pianist Jeroen van Veen has recorded two versions of this important piece.

Pärt's piano music was composed over a period of some fifty years, spanning practically the entire creative life of the composer. His output falls into three distinct periods. First is his early Neoclassical phase, exemplified by the Sonatinas and Partita that open disc two of this set. During his middle period, he began experimenting with techniques associated with the Soviet avant-garde - twelve-tone serialism and an increasing atonality for example. It is fascinating to note that at this juncture, Pärt lost interest in extreme avant-garde techniques and fell into a silent stage when, for eight years, he occupied himself with an intense study of plainchant and ancient vocal music. He was to emerge from this self-imposed silence into his third and final stage, one which we associate with his mature works. Arvo Pärt is considered a pioneer, along with contemporaries John Tavener and Henryk Górecki, of a style combining spiritualism with minimalism and a certain unification of ancient and modern techniques.

The piano music on this set comes from the composer's early and late periods. Perhaps what is the most significant aspect of Pärt's late period is what the composer Simeon ten Holt referred to as "the rebirth of tonality after its death". Pärt's piano music generally makes for very undemanding listening. Being among the most performed contemporary classical composers in the world today, Arvo Pärt's piano music is an area many serious listeners will want to get to know. With this Brilliant Classics two-CD set, you can get it all in one convenient package, beautifully performed and recorded.

Listen to further samples from this album in the video below.