Arvo Pärt and György Ligeti
Estonian composer Arvo Pärt is perhaps best known for the beautiful, spare minimalism of pieces like “Spiegel im Spiegel”. He also makes a strong case for incorporating influences from pre-Baroque early music, echoing techniques of the old polyphonic masters with a novel sense of style.
One of my favorite works of his is a short composition called “Solfeggio,” after the pitch collection “Do Re Mi.” It’s deceptively simple in concept: a choir slowly sings the eponymous diatonic scale, arranged in different octaves. The effect, in the words of the composer, is rather like light passing into water.
Yesterday my friend Erik Davis called out an interesting review he wrote of György Ligeti’s Requiem, and it got me thinking about that interesting composer. Browsing around the internet I stumbled by chance onto Ligeti’s magnificent “Lux Aeterna,” which strikes me as being of a kind with Pärt’s “Solfeggio.”
This marvelous performance is found on the album Lux Aeterna by Capella Amsterdam, which includes other works by Ligetti in a similarly-subdued palette, as well as choral works by Robert Heppener. Highly recommended.