Arvo Pärt: A Portrait

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In our culture of soundbytes and 24/7 media, the soulful, meditative music of Estonian composer Arvo Pärt offers a welcome reprieve. A new recording of his music by Montreal violinist Angèle Dubeau and her all-female chamber orchestra La Pietà is this week’s Full Rotation.

Dubeau isn’t quite a household name in the U.S. but in her native Canada she’s built a formidable reputation. In the 1990s she hosted a weekly Canadian television show "Faites vos gammes" (Do your scales), devoted to introducing new musical talent. She has made several best-selling recordings for the Canadian label Analekta, to whose president, Mario Labbé, she is married. In 1997 she founded La Pietà, named after Vivaldi's orchestra drawn entirely from members of a female orphanage.

Dubeau’s recordings are frequently vehicles for her magnetic personality and virtuoso technique. But here, she is sensitively attuned to the more self-effacing style of Pärt’s music. Included are some of his best-known works for strings including his Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten, a miraculously simple yet quietly intense score featuring tubular bell; Tabula Rasa, a disjointed Baroque concerto grosso for two violins, strings, and prepared piano; and Spiegel im Spiegel, one of his most performed works, which closes the album with a mood breathtakingly beautiful in its simplicity. The rarity on the disc is Wallfahrtslied (Pilgrims' Song) for men's choir and string orchestra, in which voices chant on two tones a fifth apart over a bed of strings.

The six pieces here offer both an excellenet introduction to the talents of Dubeau and La Pietà as well as a fine overview of the instrumental music of Arvo Pärt.

Angèle Dubeau & La Pietà
Arvo Pärt: Portrait
Analekta
Available at Arkivmusic.com