Arvo Pärt
Inspiration,  Recordings

A Plea for Peace: Arvo Pärt’s Tractus

Estonian composer Arvo Pärt’s latest album, Tractus, emerges as a soothing refuge, echoing a comforting sentiment: “In troubled times, music can help.” At 88, Pärt’s serene compositions, embraced by a diverse audience including Björk, Michael Stipe, and Keanu Reeves, offer solace beyond classical boundaries.

The opening track, “Littlemore Tractus,” serves as a prayer for support and peace, resonating with a timeless calmness. Pärt’s minimalist approach, valuing the power of silence, is evident in pieces like “Sequentia,” where tinkling bells and delicate strings breathe, creating moments of profound stillness.

Amidst the tranquility, “L’abbé Agathon” stands as a potent parable, narrating the ancient tale of a compassionate abbot. Pärt’s music subtly echoes the call to help those in need, mirroring the angelic encounter within the narrative. The contradictions in “These Words…” add complexity, as dissonant strings and a pounding bass drum explore themes of stability and prayer.

Conductor Tõnu Kaljuste, leading the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir and the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, crafts tailor-made performances, showcasing three decades of collaboration with Pärt. The album culminates with a lullaby-like composition, a gentle plea for life’s essentials: sustenance, safety, and the capacity for forgiveness.

Pärt’s Tractus is more than an album; it’s a disciplined plea for peace, a musical oasis inviting listeners to find calm amid life’s tumult.

Immerse yourself in Arvo Pärt’s music. If you find solace in these compositions, share the tranquility with others. Let the power of music bring moments of peace to those around you.

Citation: NPR: All Things Considered by Tom Huizenga – November 10, 2023

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Brenda Neece, DPhil (Oxon), is a cellist, organologist, writer, and teacher specializing in the history of the cello.