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Customer reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Pärt: Alina
Format: Audio CD|Change
Price:£12.99+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime

on 10 April 2017
Pure magic achieved by the "simplest" means.
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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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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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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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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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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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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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on 29 July 2017
Truly beautiful music through simplicity and purity.
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on 7 October 2002
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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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 21 October 2011
How can something so slow and so outrageously simple be so profound? If you sit down and break apart Spiegel im Spiegel note by note, it is seemingly nothing, a repetition over and over, scarcely travelling, which ought to be trite. Yet nothing in the previous sentence is true. Instead there is something heart-stopping, so sad, so dignified, so quietly resolute, so possessed of humility, so mysterious, so humane that it becomes almost unbearably overwhelming. To listen to this analytically is to find oneself doubting and mocking oneself in one's purple prosiness. But the point of it is not to approach the music (or an experience which feels true, in the way this music does) with that sort of cynicism. I don't know how Part does what he does, all I know is there is truth here.

Fur Alina is more open, more spare, there are spaces between the notes, which, if the listener waits inside, resisting the tendency to want to rush forward to a resolution, is like the offering of a dizzying freedom of choice - putting me in mind of Robert Frost's poem The Road Not Taken :

"I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."

The CD repeats the tracks, playing Spiegel im Spiegel, with different instruments, 3 times and Fur Alina, the solo piano piece, twice, by the same pianist, but on separate occasions. This adds to the profundity, to the sense of being unable to step into the same river twice. Everything has changed, although everything remains the same. The paradox of stillness at the heart of motion.
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