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4.8 out of 5 stars
Pärt: Alina
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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on 31 January 2000
In the sleeve notes Part writes about his music being 'white' so that the listener can bring his own 'colours' to it. Exactly. The three versions of spiegel im spiegel are almost transcendental and they are very difficult to get out of your head after you've listened to them, and even then never completely. Norman Lebrecht, in the latest edition of his book on 20th century music, is so dismissive of the piece that one wonders if the man had his wits about him when he was listening to it. I do not understand why there aren't more opportunities to hear Part's stuff live. I once had the unexpected pleasure of hearing, at Southampton University's Turner Sims, a small string ensemble perform a piece which I had only previously heard with piano and violin. To hear a piece one knows and loves played ever so slightly differently is quite something, as this record perfectly demonstrates.
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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
on 4 December 1999
There are five tracks on this disc but in a sense only two pieces of music; but this is more than a smart piece of conmanship on the part of ECM. This is minimalist music and here the idea of a mirror comes into play. There are differences in the performance of each piece, each time it appears and given the relative simplicity of each piece the differences prove to be crucial. I am a Part fan but even by his standards this is distilled to the nth degree. The piano piece (Fur Alina) is seminal here, ushering in Part's obsession with bell-like sounds. The sheet music for the piece is baffling at first - it looks so spare, is technically so easy to play, but what does it mean? Listen to these performances and be spellbound. A seeming paucity of musical material does not lead to boredom. On the contrary I had to time the disc to ensure that it is the length stated on the cover. If you give yourself and your fullest attention to this music it becomes something of a meditation - certainly for me time both stands still and flashes by while listening to it. A superb disc with ECM's customary attention to detail both in terms of presentation and performance.
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
I have always been one for Rachmaninov myself, but on hearing this delightful work, I think I may of changed my mind. You might even say that I had forgotten how beautiful simplicity could be, without ornamentation, without a lush embrace of a 20+ note chord (part dissonance, part assonance) filling space with a ring of grandeur. These 5 pieces each have their own grandeur, their own pride, which is realised through the sparcity of colour.
Do sit quietly and listen to this work. Listen to the silences, the breaths between the notes, the expression in the phrases. I am sure if you do, you will be rewarded with a pleasure which only good music can bring you.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 19 January 2001
From the first plangent notes, this CD had the effect of completely chilling me out. I could feel my shoulders dropping as it flowed over me. It's deceptively simple, and works both as an intense listening experience but also as background music to work by. I loved it.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 6 March 2000
Slow,sublime and meditative.This album will grow on you the more you listen.Piano music is achingly beautiful.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 19 January 2009
I've listened to many of the Arvo Part CDs, and have to say I don't take to his orchestral and/or choral works .... they are too disjointed and not sufficiently flowing for my taste. Also, I don't tend to like music with a huge range of volume, from o to 11 on the volume scale, as I'm looking for something hypnotic from this type of minimalist "spiritual" music. But this CD is just perfect. It's ideal if you want to be transported into silence. Reminds me somewhat of Keith Jarrett at his sublime best, and also has some of the quality of Renaissance church music, such as Taverner, Tallis and Palestrina, but pared down to its absolute basics. It's beautiful simplicity at its best. Definitely worth buying.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 11 December 2008
Arvo Pärt is one of those rare contemporary composers whose works are immediately accessible and (probably for the same reason) whose output manages to attract the kind of audience that would otherwise give contemporary 'serious' music a wide berth.

Both pieces on this CD, Spiegel im Spiegel and Für Alina, exert a hypnotic pull on the listener. As far as the traditional musical ingredients are concerned (harmony, melody etc.), there isn't an awful lot going on. But what does happen contributes to an artfully designed sound that is meditative, introspective and unique.

Despite the possible perception of poor value (the five tracks are, in essence, just two works in varied guise) there are two very good reasons for opting for this CD over rival versions. First is the violin playing of Vladimir Spivakov. His sparing vibrato makes his style particularly well suited to such an ascetically spiritual piece. The second is an absorbing essay on Pärt's musical aesthetic (by Hermann Conen). It begins with a quotation in which Pärt compares his music to white light. Only a prism can divide the colours, he says, and the spirit of the listener is the prism for his music's whiteness. And if this sounds like nothing so much as hocus pocus, the proof is in the listening.

As with Bach's Prelude No 1 for keyboard or the Prelude to his First Cello Suite, Pärt offers a simplicity that is self-sufficient.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 2 December 2000
I find this recording magical, the repetition of the pieces adds to the mystique, the cello version being my favourite. Perfect for relieving stress on a Friday evening, either on the M25, or at home.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 5 April 2008
If someone was to ask me to go through my music collection and pick out the perfect piece of music, Alina would be it. Neither offensive nor boring or shallow, it's uncomplicated with thought provoking phrasing, holding one's attention time after time without growing tiring. Yes, the tracks are slightly repetitive and the CD only has 2 tracks (albeit varied), but believe me you could stick your player on repeat and have this running for a couple of hours without wanting to change it.

What is interesting is that everyone who has heard this CD playing has complemented the music and asked for the details. It's a winner with my wife, who despises at least 90% of my music taste. It even manages to calm my baby down.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 11 July 2002
Indescribably beautiful music, strengthened rather than weakened by the repetition of the pieces. The differing instrumentations bring out the simple, limpid beauty of Pärt's compositions. The disc has an almost overpowering spiritual resonance. Despite not being explicitly devotional music, Pärt's religious beliefs seem to inform every note and pause on the record. Music to die to, rather than for.
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