Pärt composing-by-numbers

Netherlands Radio Chamber Philharmonic fail to muster up much enthusiasm for Pärt's limp score

Composer: Pärt
Repertoire: Piano music, including: Lamentate and Zwei Sonatinen
Ralph van Raat (pf), Netherlands Radio Chamber Philharmonic/Joann Falletta
Rating:  2/5
Genre: Orchestral
Label: NAXOS 8.572525

The Music: The main feature here is Pärt’s 2002 Lamentate, a piano concerto in all but name dedicated to Anish Kapoor, the sculptor much beloved of Tate Modern whose sculptures look like they’re disappearing into the ground. Taking us there: Pärt’s opus 1, a set of Bach-meets-Shostakovich Zwei Sonatinen, and his distinctive ‘holy minimalist’ Variationen, Für Alina and Für Anna Maria.

The Performance: As well as being devoid of any memorable musical material – he relies on scene-setting intros and contrived pseudo-theatrical effect to make his point 
– Pärt’s lifeless, composing-by-numbers score has nothing remotely useful to tell us about Anish Kapoor’s techniques or aesthetic. This performance nails all the notes, but the point still eludes me. Much better are the genteel solo works Für Alina and Für Anna Maria which introduce the kernel of a melodic itch, scratch it, and then simply stop.

The Verdict: Lamentate feels like a bad idea of what good music should sound like. The solo works are where the meat is, and Van Raat is responsive to their touch-sensitive textures and harmonic ambiguities.

Want More? To be frank, no Ralphvan Raat’s performance of Frederic Rzewski’s The People United Will Never Be Defeated! (Naxos 8.559360) is made of sterner stuff.