ARVO PAART: Lamentate; Da Pacem Domine – Alexei Lubimov, piano/SWR Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra/ Andrey Boreyko; (The Hilliard Ensemble in Da Pacem Domine) – ECM 1930, 42:46 *****:
I apologize for our late covering of this important new recording of a work by Paart. For a time it seemed we were receiving a whole passel o’ Paart and this CD got missed in the deluge. I may also have put it aside seeing The Hilliard Ensemble listing, since I usually prefer Paart’s instrumental music to his vocal works. The fact is the under-six-minute Da pacem Domine – an a capella prayer for peace – is just the brief overture to the main work here, which is really a sort of piano concerto.
Lamentate is one of the very few compositions inspired by a work of sculpture. A photo of the immense sculpture, “Marsyas,” by Anish Kapoor is included in the note booklet, and it dwarfs the orchestra performing in front of it. (It struck me as having a similar oval shape to Xenakis’ “Diatope” musical sculpture.) One can understand the impact it had on the composer. He indicates in the note booklet that “the sculpture shatters not only concepts of space, but also…concepts of time. The boundary between time and timelessness no longer seems so evident.” Paart was moved to write a lamento, not for the dead but for the living who have to deal with the great issues of death and suffering in the world. He chose the piano to represent the role of a person – perhaps a narrator – and felt it added intimacy and warmth to the instrumental picture.
The work is divided into ten sections although performed continuously. They carry titles such as Stridently, Fragile, Solitude. Massive piano chords hammer home repeated patterns in the brief penultimate section, Resolutely, which leads to the quiet conclusion marked Fragile and Conciliatory – indicating human acceptance of the struggle with pain and hopelessness in the world. The clean, distortion-free two-channel signal of the standard CD translates effectively to an enveloping surround field using ProLog II. It also works very well with spacing out the four-part a capella opening work by the Hilliards.
– John Sunier