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Pärt: Orient Occident CD

4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Orchestra: Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra
  • Conductor: Tonu Kaljuste
  • Composer: Arvo Pärt
  • Audio CD (31 Dec. 2008)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: ECM New Series
  • ASIN: B00006I61F
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 56,336 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Product Description

Product Description

ECM 1795 472080; ECM RECORDS - Germania;


The latest ECM release of music by the Estonian composer Arvo Pärt takes its title from the shortest work on the disc, Orient Occident, composed in 2000 for string orchestra. Tinged with Eastern musical motives, the texture constantly alternates between rich harmonies and unison sections.

The CD opens with Pilgrim's Song, Pärt's tribute to his friend, the Estonian film and theatre director Grigori Kromanov. The work was written in 1984 for male voice and string quartet but it is the 2001 version for men's choir and string orchestra which is heard here. Based on Psalm 121 ("I will lift mine eyes unto the hills…"), Pilgrim's Song explores, as Pärt explains in his sleevenote, time and timelessness. The mellifluous vocal writing contrasts with a heartfelt mourning figure for strings.

Como cierva sedienta (1998)--a five-movement choral drama for soprano, women's choir and orchestra--is the most substantial work on the disc. It begins in familiar Pärt territory--sustained voices, a tolling bell--before the orchestra begins to unfold. Some of the music which follows is almost filmic with its blazing trumpets and stratospheric vocal writing. Committed performances throughout come from the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra and Choir directed by Tõnu Kaljuste. --Rebecca Agnew

Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Amadeus 888 on 13 Feb. 2009
Format: Audio CD
The main piece of the album is "Como cierva sedienta", a half-hour choral drama commissioned by the Festival de Música de Canarias on verses taken from Psalms 42 and 43. So far, I believe it is one of Arvo Part's most significant and beautiful creations. Words cannot begin to describe the beauty, power, depth of emotion and sacredness that Como cierva sedienta exhudes. It's a very personal and intimate dialogue between the soul and God.

I consider myself privileged to have come across such music.

Lovers of good music: don't miss it!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Philoctetes TOP 500 REVIEWER on 5 Aug. 2009
Format: Audio CD
One of my fellow reviewers describing some music on this CD as "ugly"? Come on, be serious.

If this particular ECM production disappointed some, I say, leave it to rest a while and then try it again, perhaps whilst you're doing something else (like writing a review for Amazon). Como Cierva Sedienta should seep into your consciousness, so you can then appreciate its theatricality.

The only real problem is the duration: 47:29. Short for a CD.
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18 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Dobester on 6 Oct. 2002
Format: Audio CD
It is probably churlish to nitpick about works by a composer of Part's stature, but it seems reasonable because of his previous compositions' emotional intensity. This disc might be Part marking time, when compared to his Litany, Tabula Rasa or Alina, but this is the complaint of one of the tens of thousands whose lives (musical, at least) have been transformed by the quiet intensity of his music.
Despite these semi-criticisms, all those who love Part's music will still glean pleasure from these three compositions, even if they will not achieve the "satoris" they have come to expect from his work.
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1 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Gemma Smyth on 10 Dec. 2007
Format: Audio CD
If you love Arvo Part's music for its tender, spiritual beauty then this CD is certainly not for you. If the Berlin Mass is cheese then this must definitely be chalk. Quite an ugly modernist piece. Arvo Part is one of the greatest composers and in a 1000 years his music will still be performed however in regards to this, it really is the runt of a large litter.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 12 reviews
50 of 52 people found the following review helpful
This is not the Pärt of "Tabula Rasa" 12 Oct. 2002
By S. Laker - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
While this music is stylistically enjoyable, some of the tracks are in a very different vein from the more contemplative "tinitannabuli" compositions Pärt has become known for. The title track, in particular, seems to be far removed from his normal modes; it is dissonant and amelodic. Much closer to some of Pärt's earlier work, I think, than I would've expected from a composition written in 2000.
The last four tracks comprise a piece called "Como Cierva Sedienta", a longish choral work very similar to others Pärt has written e.g "Sarah was ninety years old". I found this to be the most enjoyable piece on the CD.
Someone looking for "more of the same" after hearing Pärt's "Fratres" or "Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten" would be very surprised by these works. I'd suggest that such a person look instead at a disc like "Beatus", "Arbos" or one of the long choral pieces for a better idea of the styles exhibited by this composer.
This is challenging music, alternating between ethereal and dramatic, but ultimately it is music to be appreciated. I certainly do.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Continuosly gorgeous 26 Dec. 2002
By Joshua F. Monroe - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
While there is a difference between the "Tabula Rasa" type harmonies and the harmonies in these works, there is still a tintinnabuli structure at work. I find these works to be closer stylistically and harmonically to his more recent works than those of his earlier period (certainly there's a lack of twelve tone rows and rubber squeak toys). Arvo Pärt seems to be slightly expanding his harmonic range, but I feel those who enjoyed "Fratres" or any of his larger choral works will enjoy these works well before enjoying his first two symphonies or "Perpetuum Mobile".
These are very gorgeous works, you should not hesitate to add this c.d. to your Pärt collection. All three works share the strengths of their predecessors while expanding some of Pärt's current harmonic boundaries. Arvo Pärt continues to produce strong and powerful work for his Lord.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Colliding contrasts and colliding styles... 20 May 2006
By ewomack - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Arvo Part has become famous for his religiously meditative and atmospheric music. These deceptively sparse compositions create musical structures rather than melodic narratives. They sometimes even require a new way of listening. Beginning in 1977 his compositions primarily utilized a triadic technique known as "tintinnabulation". Pieces such as "Alina", "Fratres", and "Tabula Rasa" resonate with harmonics that exude a deep and longing spirituality.

But previous to 1977, Part was heavily involved in the atonal movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Heavy dissonance, clashing chromaticism, and experimental tonality permeated these early works. The grinding "Collage Sur BACH", from 1964, sounds light years away from 1977's airy "Tabula Rasa". Those who appreciate P'ärt's more ethereal work might recoil at the bold experimentalism prevalent in these compositions.

Which leads to a surprise for listeners of Part's more recent music. He seems to have begun reexploring his roots. The pieces on this CD, as well as "Miserere" and 2002's "Lamentate", contain flashes of brash dissonance and atonality. Part seems to be attempting an integration of his stormy early compostional style with his more delicate post-1977 style.

This CD contains excellent examples of this seemingly new experimentalism. 1984's "Wallfahrtslied/Pilgrim's Song" revels in contrasts. The strings grope, pine, and search for something ineffable. Their melodic structures never really resolve. Suddenly a reticent choir appears and moans Psalm 121. Then the strings reappear with more intensity. Creshendoes reach higher in extent and in volume. The Psalm apparently evoked more questions than answers. Then, following a refrain of this pattern, the strings completely take over and slowly wind down into silence. Whether the piece ends in acceptance or resignation remains a matter of interpretation. Maybe the question merely gets subverted by the continuing process of everyday living, and so fades off. Structually, the piece is infused with a mourning "why?" That Part wrote it for a deceased friend shouldn't come as a surprise. It seems to grapple with unanswerable questions. Elements of Part's early and late periods mingle throughout the song's almost nine minutes. The strings flail, sometimes dissonantly, and the choir maintains a fairly steady late Part tone. Blended together they create something new.

"Orient & Occident" sounds nothing like the tintinnambulatory Part. Two distinct but similar styles merge and compete for hegemony. Sometimes they meld beautifully into one another, but sometimes they butt heads. A contest between quarter tones styles, slides, no slides, and half tone styles ensues. It makes for a very interesting juxtaposition.

The final piece, "Como Cierva Sedienta", puts Psalms 42-43 to music, but this time in Spanish. Its moods fluctuate from streaming explosions to penetrating calm, somewhat similiar to the earlier "Miserere". An all higher range woman's choir provides the vocals, giving the piece an ethereal, ghostly quality even when the pace intensifies. At some thirty minutes, this song occupies the largest part of the disc. And, similar to the other pieces, it only sounds like the 1977 P'ärt to a degree.

Part has obviously expanded and evolved his style in these compositions. He has definitely not stagnated. And though pure tintinnambulation served him for a time, he couldn't stay there forever. On "Orient Occident" he takes this now world famous style and begins to really stretch it into something new without completely abandoning it.
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Great music...just too much money for soo little 24 Jun. 2003
By Zachary Wilder - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This is a great disc, with a great choir and orchestra, and the music is really cool...but there's only 45 minutes of it...and Pärt's usual choral writing isnt as up to par. In fact its all in unison...But if you are a Pärt fanatic, its a good addition. If you are new to Pärt, I'd get either the "Te Deum," "I Am the True Vine (an especially good one)," "St Matthew's Passion," or anything with the "Missa Syllibica" in it
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Fantastic 23 Jan. 2004
By hardingsfriendlymarket - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This is a fantastic recording of three works by the great Estonian composer Arvo Part. A previous reviewer was right to say that these works seem to point to Part's earlier, more dissonant, works; but they also are relevant in comparison to his contemporary (and future?) works. The unison choral writing simultaneously points to early "choral" church music, with a contemplative and reverent quality relating those early works with his own spiritually evocative recent work. The dissonance pointed out is not out of place in Part's music, only set aside for a while to be taken back up with a renewed sensitivity for it's place in his compositional technique.
Also, I just have to remark on an earlier post: If there were only two composers, neither Beethoven nor Part would make the cut. Limited to "Art" music in the Western tradition, Bach would be one, and I'm unsure of the other... it's neither of them, however.
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