6.20.2007



Arvo Pärt 1977.
Cantus in memoriam Benjamin Britten.



Arvo Pärt, the father of "sacred minimalism", has produced a tremendous amount of powerful music over the past 50 years or so. Cantus in memoriam Benjamin Britten just might be the most serene, introspective and delicately beautiful piece of music written. Written in response to the death of the great British composer Benjamin Britten, Cantus.. is a complete meditation on death and the acceptance of silence. The work, written for strings and bells in a single tone, is an exercise in repition and the use of only the A-minor scale and the A-minor chord. Half of the strings descend the scale while the other half plays notes from the chord. This simplicity gives the work a soothing energy as the strings and the bells search through the relative darkness, where they eventually reach a point at which the final bell toll suggests the feelings of hope (possibly in the form of a resurrection or redemption). A remarkably simple composition carries so much power and energy. A true masterpiece.

Selected recordings recommended for purchasing:
The Bournemouth Sinfonietta (conducted by Stoudt) version available here. (Disc contains many other great Pärt works)



Artwork: Mark Rothko // Black on Gray

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