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“And the end of all our exploring Will be to arrive where we started And know the place for the first time.”
T.S.Eliot : Four Quartets, Little Gidding

Arvo PartHow can something so slow and so outrageously simple be so profound? If you sit down and break apart Spiegel im Spiegel note by note, it is seemingly nothing, a repetition over and over, scarcely travelling, which ought to be trite. Yet nothing in the previous sentence is true. Instead there is something heart-stopping, so sad, so dignified, so quietly resolute, so possessed of humility, so mysterious, so humane that it becomes almost unbearably overwhelming. To listen to this analytically is to find oneself doubting and Tintinnabulationmocking oneself in one’s purple prosiness. But the point of it is not to approach the music (or an experience which feels true, in the way this music does) with that sort of cynicism. I don’t know how Part does what he does, all I know is there is truth here.

Fur Alina is more open, more spare, there are spaces between the notes, which, if the listener waits inside, resisting the tendency to want to rush forward to a resolution, is like the offering of a dizzying freedom of choice – putting me in mind of Robert Frost’s poem The Road Not Taken :

“I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”

The CD repeats the tracks, playing Spiegel im Spiegel, with different instruments, 3 31HWDISxpLL._SL500_AA280_times and Fur Alina, the solo piano piece, twice, by the same pianist, but on separate occasions. This adds to the profundity, to the sense of being unable to step into the same river twice. Everything has changed, although everything remains the same. The paradox of stillness at the heart of motion.

Arvo Pärt – Alina Amazon UK
Arvo Pärt – Alina Amazon USA
For some reason, the UK site has this to download/hear samples, the USA site only has the CD