The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: YOU MUST HEAR THIS – Arvo Part’s “Spiegel im Spiegel”

September 1, 2015
20 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

Maybe I missed it.

Or maybe my memory doesn’t serve me well.

But I can’t recall hearing either choral or instrumental music by Arvo Part in a live performance in Madison.

That’s too bad. The music by the 79-year-old composer (below), who was born in Estonia and now resides in Germany, is quite lovely. Plus, programming a popular contemporary composer might just draw in some new audiences.

But it is the same story for Philip Glass, who is perhaps the most performed living composer but whose works are rarely heard in Madison.

Arvo Part

Anyway, here is something of a miniature. It is called “Spiegel im Spiegel” and is usually translated as “Mirror in Mirror” to suggest the endless reflections you get if you put mirrors opposite each other.

It is a lovely piece, which possesses a minimalism and a certain kind of Asian austerity to it. It seems “reflective” also in the calm and meditative sense. You can hear how Gregorian chant influenced Arvo Part’s own style.

The work must be popular somewhere because there are many arrangements of it for viola, cello and harp.

The YouTube video at the bottom features the original scoring of solo violin with piano accompaniment. The musicians are violinist Anne Akiko Meyers and pianist Reiko Uchida in a live performance.

The Ear thinks it is a MUST-HEAR piece and hopes that you enjoy it — and that maybe it will convince some local individuals and ensembles to perform more music by Arvo Part.

 


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