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Arvo Pärt

Fratres

for string orchestra and percussion

Composed in Pärt's very own Tintinnabuli-style, Fratres allows many different settings because it is not bound to a specific timbre. “The highest virtue of music, for me, lies outside of its mere sound. The particular timbre of an instrument is part of the music, but it is not the most important element. If it were, I would be surrendering to the essence of the music. Music must exist of itself … two, three notes … the essence must be there, independent of the instruments.” (Arvo Pärt)

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„I feel sorry for her,” Varvara sings in the first act of Janá?ek’s sixth opera Katja Kabanowa. And this feeling of compassion with a psychically-tortured woman could be a motto of many of his operas. Most of Janá?ek’s operas deal with individuals oppressed by socially determined facts and conventions, and if they try to resist it often brings fatal consequences. Janá?ek decided to musicalize The Tempest (Bou?e) by Ostrovský probably around the beginning of 1919. It was not surprising that he chose a Russian theme, as Janá?ek was a cofounder of the Russian Circle in Brno, loved Russian culture and often found inspiration in Russian literature. As soon as the question of using a translation by Vincenc ?ervinka was resolved, Janá?ek started working. He adapted the whole drama by himself. The première of the opera took place in November 23, 1921, in the National Theatre in Brno under the baton of František Neumann. Almost one year later on November 30, 1922, Katja Kabanowa was staged in the National Theatre in Prague, conducted by Otakar Ostr?il. The success was immense, even though reviewers pointed out, that “the crucial mistake was that the opera did not have a fast flowing story”. In 1927 Janá?ek decided to resolve the connections of individual scenes in the first and second acts by changing the score. He added short interludes into both acts that made it possible to rebuild the scene without interrupting the music flow and thus to interconnect individual scenes. They were restored by Sir Charles Mackerras, who also put them into the newly-published score of the opera. Katja Kabanowa represents an intimate and lyrical example of a lonely human being and a personal tragedy with no empty or pathetic gestures. It is a story which may be happening even today to our neighbours. This may be why this work still appeals to us, and thanks to its musical production it belongs among the most impressive musical tragedies the 20th century brought. Ji?í Zahrádka

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Arvo Pärt

Te Deum

for 3 choirs, prepared piano, string orchestra and tape

The liturgical text of the Te Deum consists of immutable truths. I am reminded of the sense of immeasurable serenity imparted by a mountain panorama. Swiss artist Martin Ruf once told me that he can distinguish over twenty shades of blue in the mountains when the air is clear. His words immediately turned into sound; I began to “hear” those “blue” mountains. I wished only to convey a mood, a mood that could be infinite in time, by delicately removing one piece – one particle of time – out of the flow of infinity. I had to draw this music gently out of silence and emptiness. The work Te Deum was a quest for something evanescent, something long lost or not yet found, the quest for something believed to be non-existent, but so real that it exists not only within us but beyond our being as well. Arvo Pärt

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