Viktoria Mullova and Estonian composer Arvo Pärt have only known each other a short while, but there is a natural affinity between the two in this new release with the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra under Paavo Järvi, along with violinist Florian Donderer and pianist Liam Dunachie. All but one of the tracks were recorded at the Estonia Concert Hall in Tallinn, a building in which Pärt’s music must by now be deeply ingrained, spiritually if not physically.

The Russian violinist brings her strength, articulation, and depth of tone to Pärt’s measured simplicity; one senses an artistic affinity that perhaps derives from their shared, formative experiences under the Soviet Union. But the recording is not merely interpretative, it is also collaborative. The composer himself was present and active in the recording sessions, which is one of the constant strengths of the many excellent Pärt recordings coming out of Estonia.

Mullova’s performances of Tabula Rasa and Fratres are expansive and solid, the soloist extracting a great deal of emotion, even anger, from the works. Likewise, her Passacaglia exhibits a ferociousness that, working within Pärt’s mathematical compositional style, comes primarily from her muscular bowing. The dichotomy between minimalist rigidity and spiritualism that drives Pärt’s work is dissolved in a heart-aching performance of the perilously transparent Spiegel im Spiegel.


Composer: Arvo Pärt
Composition: Fratres, Tabula Rasa
Performer: Viktoria Mullova v, Estonian National SO/Paavo Järvi
Catalogue Number: Onyx ONYX4201