Music by Pärt, Vasks et al
Tamara-Anna Cislowska p, Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra/Johannes Fritzsch
ABC Classics 4816295
The music of post-WWII Baltic composers like Pärt, Vasks and Górecki (of Symphony of Sorrowful Songs fame) has proved an oasis for those seeking musical calm. Gently repetitive, soothingly melodic, and with only the subtlest of dissonances, it’s frequently found on yoga and mindfulness playlists thanks to its inoffensive nature. Not that these composers didn’t intend anyone to listen to their music properly. But I do wonder how many people who buy Into Silence, (and it will be very popular), will listen to it critically?
There’s no question this recent release with the brilliant Australian pianist Tamara-Anna Cislowska is beautiful. It’s all lovingly rendered, lyrical splendour, with quiet solace in the delicate solo piano works and rich warmth provided by the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra’s string section. It’s a programme chosen for its “transcendent serenity”, to use ABC Classics’ words, and the album certainly encourages quiet contemplation.
But it’s not exactly the most well-rounded look at the composers on offer (not that it’s marketed that way, to be fair), and the album blurs into a haze of ‘lovely’. Some works inject much-needed vim, like Gorecki’s quirky Piano Concerto. But the music of “undiscovered gem” Georgs Pele¯cis is almost childishly simple, and not that rewarding to listen to. Thankfully the more dissonant works of
Vasks and Pärt are a welcome contrast.