“Blank slate” might be an apt name for the Australian Chamber Orchestra’s first tour of 2021, following the shutdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic last year, but the concert was in fact the orchestra’s first to be cancelled in 2020. Named for Arvo Pärt’s exquisite double violin concerto, the program – which brings together, for the most part, music written under the shadow of the Soviet Union – is beautifully constructed and it would have been a crime to leave this one to languish in the ashes of last year.
The Australian Chamber Orchestra. Photo © Nic Walker
Artistic Director Richard Tognetti sets the music in motion, the ACO strings opening with Wojciech Kilar’s Orawa. Named for a region in Poland’s southern Tatra highlands, the 1986 work fuses folk music influences from the Góral fiddlers with a dynamic style reminiscent of the American minimalists – Steve Reich’s Different Trainswas composed just two years later.
While Kilar and Estonian composer Arvo Pärt share a ‘minimalist’ aesthetic and oeuvres shaped by their Christian spirituality, Pärt’s Tabula Rasa– the first major work...