Brand new! Released on November 11th, 2023!
Eternity lies behind the pause.
It is the concentration of all forces, the core of wisdom.
– Arvo Pärt
|Sonatina No 1, Op 1 (1958, dedicated to Prof. Bruno Lukk)|
|Partita, Op 2 (1958, dedicated to Prof. Bruno Lukk)|
|Sonatina No 2, Op 1 (1959, dedicated to Prof. Bruno Lukk)|
|Four Easy Dances (1956–1959)|
|10||Puss in Boots||0:38|
|11||Little Reed Riding||1:30|
|13||Dance of the Ducklings||2:10|
|14||Diagrams (Diagramme), Op 11||3:27|
|15||Mommy’s Kiss (1968, dedicated “to my mother”)||1:21|
|16||Ukuaru Waltz (1973/2010)||2:13|
|17||Für Alina (1976)||2:19|
|18||Pari intervallo (for 2 pianos, 1976/2008)||5:48|
|19||Variations for the Healing of Arinushka (1977)||3:46|
|20||Hymn to a Great City (for 2 pianos, 1984/2004, dedicated to Mirjam and William Miesse)||3:33|
|21||Für Anna Maria (2006)||1:07|
#17, Für Alina, 2 min 14 sec, mp3, 320 Kbps
#14, Diagrams, fragment, 2 min 23 sec, mp3, 320 Kbps
#20, Hymn to a Great City, fragment, 2 min 37 sec, mp3, 320 Kbps
#16, Ukuaru Waltz, 2 min 7 sec, mp3, 320 Kbps
Sheet music published by Universal Edition (#1–13, 16–21), Internationale Musikverlage Hans Sikorski (#14), Arvo Pärt Centre and Universal Edition (#15)
Performed by: Tähe-Lee Liiv (#1–21), Marrit Gerretz-Traksmann (#18, 20)
Recorded: July 17th–19th, 2023 in the Hall of Estonian Academy of Music
Engineered and mastered by Tanel Klesment / Audio Maja
Instruments: Steinway & Sons Concert Grand Piano D-274 (#1–21) and Fazioli F278 (#18, 20)
Pianos tuned by Andres Leesik
Liner notes by Ardo Västrik
Booklet compiled and edited by Meeta Morozov
English translations by Mehis Kivilo, Tiina Jokinen
Photos by Kaupo Kikkas, Peeter Vähi
Design by Angelika Schneider
Produced by Peeter Vähi
On the front cover: Excerpt of Diagrams by Arvo Pärt (© 1966 MUSIKVERLAG HANS SIKORSKI)
With kind permission of Musikverlag Hans Sikorski GmbH, Berlin
Special thanks: Cultural Endowment of Estonia, Michael Pärt, Meelis Kubits, Reet ja Väino Kaldoja, Neeme Tammis, Diana Liiv, Arvo Pärt Centre, Estonian Authors’ Society
℗ + © Kammermuusikud, Estonian Record Productions
Every melody breathes on its own. Its inner pain and the consolation of that pain constitute the breath when they are bound inseparably to each other.
– Arvo Pärt
Arvo Pärt (1935) at the age of 10 started piano studies at the Rakvere Music School under the guidance of teacher Ille Martin. Despite there being much photo evidence of Arvo Pärt with different instruments during schooltime, precisely the piano has been the instrument that has accompanied him throughout his later creative career. There are not many works by Arvo Pärt for solo piano, but in some ways in them, can be perceived very important aspects for the composer.
Arvo Pärt composed at the beginning of his composer’s career, in the 1950s and 1960s, numerous children’s songs and piano pieces, music for plays and animated films. A large part of the (children’s) music of that time has come to life as spontaneous improvisation in singing and theatrical rehearsals, bearing in them the sincerity and playfulness of the moment. We hear this in Four Easy Dances (1956–1959), but partially also in later works such as Für Alina (1976), Variations for the Healing of Arinushka (1977) and Für Anna Maria (2006). The lastly mentioned, despite their deceptive technical simplicity, are not at all easy for children to perform.
The sonatinas (1958–1959) and Partita (1958), composed during the early conservatory years, are among the first concert pieces. The young composer with these piano works reached a wider audience thanks to the renowned pianist, Professor Bruno Lukk, who highly rated the works by taking them into his repertoire and to whom Arvo Pärt dedicated all three above-mentioned works. The neoclassical style and atonal content corresponded to the serious aspirations that emerged in young composers of the time, imposing at the same time high technical demands on the performer.
The album’s title track, Diagrams (sometimes Diagramme, 1964) and the signature piece of the tintinnabuli style, Für Alina that marks the watershed for composition to date, form in their own way an interesting pair. When listening, both works are characterized by a certain freedom., while at the same time, the music is subjected to extreme strictness. It is even possible on closer inspection to see similarities in structure (so to speak “principle of addition”). The composer is the same, but the way of seeing the world and the relationship between sounds, has completely changed. The tintinnabuli technique is characterised by the so-called duality of sounds – along with a to a greater or lesser extent created free flowing melody line, is heard the tintinnabuli sound that follows strict rules. This music is free from everything excessive, through reduction only the essential has remained.
Pari intervallo (Latin – ‘equidistant’) that followed was originally composed as 4-part music, without bearing in mind a specific instrumentation and premiered in October 1976, at the first concert of tintinnabuli works, performed by the ensemble Hortus Musicus, on early music instruments. The piece, which was then published in the organ version, was not arranged for four hands or two pianos until 2008. The original work was composed on the occasion of the death of the composer’s stepfather and is endowed with a motto from the New Testament from Paul’s letter to the Romans: “When we live, we live for the Lord, and when we die, we die for the Lord.” Ukuaru Waltz, the melody of which was composed as an instrumental piece for the Leida Laius movie Ukuaru, in 1973, has in part a similar background. The slightly simplified original accordion version had become very popular among the people, was rearranged by the composer in 2010 for piano, with minor changes.
It needs to be emphasised in characterising the piano piece, Variations for the Healing of Arinushka, in addition to the mentioned sincerity and simplicity, the skill of the composer to treat the material exhaustively, i.e. it is possible from a very small nucleus to develop all possibilities and present it as a moving work. A slightly different kind of exhaustiveness takes place in the repeated sequences and cadences that make up the piece Hymn to a Great City (1984/2010), for two pianos that is dedicated to the music-loving family of Estonians abroad, Mirjam and William Miesse, in whose hospitable home in New York the composer found a place to stay during his trip to the United States.
Though being mentioned last, perhaps the most important aspect reflecting through the dedications (Aliina, Ariina and Anna Maria are real persons) as well as intrinsically in all works is love. It is expressed in the most apparent way in the piano piece Mommy’s Kiss, dedicated to his mother that originally was used in the play In Front of the Curtains by Elar Kuus, staged in 1968. The piece tells the story of a great rabbit family for whose toddlers the mommy’s kiss is a powerful secret weapon – it adds courage and keeps all kinds of dangers away.
Tähe-Lee Liiv graduated from Tallinn Music High School in 2022 under the supervision of Prof. Ivari Ilja and Marrit Gerretz-Traksmann. In parallel, she studied at the youth department of the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre, at the Sibelius Academy Youth Department with Hui-Ying Liu-Tawaststjerna and at the Accademia Perosi with Konstantin Bogino. In 2021, Tähe-Lee Liiv received the RCM scholarship to study under the guidance of Dmitri Alexeev. Since 2022, she also studies at the Barenboim-Said Akademie in Berlin with Sir Andràs Schiff. Tähe-Lee Liiv has also attended masterclasses by pianists such as Arbo Valdma, Vladimir Ovchinnikov, Dmitri Bashkirov, Victor Rosenbaum, Piotr Paleczny, Pavel Nersessian and others.
Tähe-Lee Liiv has been successful in numerous national and international competitions, including the finalist diploma and two special prizes at the 4th Tallinn International Piano Competition (2021), 1st prize at the Estonian TV competition Classical Stars 2020, 1st prize and two special prizes at the 9th Estonian Pianists’ Competition (2019), 2nd prize at the Gershwin International Music Competition in New York (2019), 1st prize at the Concerto Competition “Theodor Leschetitzky” for Gifted Young Pianists in New York (2019), Guido Alberto Fano prize at the music festival Venice Music Masters (2019) and 1st prize at the International Piano Competition Città di San Donà di Piave (2018).
As a soloist, Tähe-Lee Liiv has performed with the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, Kremerata Baltica, Vanemuine Symphony Orchestra, New York Camerata, Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, Israel Camerata Jerusalem, the Symphony Orchestra of Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre, and others. She has been a guest artist at several music festivals such as the Concertino Praga in the Czech Republic (2018), the Sibelius Festival in Finland (2021), the Mänttä Music Festival in Finland (2019), Glasperlenspiel Music Festival in Estonia (2022).
Tähe-Lee’s favourite childhood piece was Arvo Pärt’s Butterflies from the cycle Four Easy Dances, this first encounter with Pärt’s music was followed by the concerts at the Arvo Pärt Centre, in the series HELIjaKEEL (‘Sound and Language’) and Võim ja vaim. Arvo Pärt ja ENSV (‘Power and Spirit. Arvo Pärt and the Estonian SSR’) to say the least. Tähe-Lee Liiv: “I am very grateful to Arvo and Nora Pärt and the Arvo Pärt Centre for their long-standing support and helping me immerse myself in Pärt’s music.”
The current CD, her debut album, will be released on November 11th, 2023, when the pianist celebrates her 20th birthday.
Download the photo of Tähe-Lee Liiv (photo by Kaupo Kikkas, colour RGB, JPG, 8 MB)
Marrit Gerretz-Traksmann has graduated from Tallinn Music High School. From 1989 to 1997, she studied at the Estonian Academy of Music with professors Bruno Lukk, Anna Klas and Peep Lassmann and in 2002, obtained her Master’s degree in chamber music under the supervision of Prof. Marje Lohuaru. She has also attended the lessons of Prof. Liisa Pohjola at the Sibelius Academy in Finland.
Marrit Gerretz-Traksmann has played in numerous chamber ensembles, the most important of which is Uus Tallinna Trio. As a soloist, she has performed among others with the NDR Radiophilharmonie, Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra, Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, Tallinn Chamber Orchestra and Białystok Symphony Orchestra. She has collaborated with conductors Tõnu Kaljuste, Eri Klas, Kaspar Zehnder and others. Marrit Gerretz-Traksmann has recorded a lot of piano music for Estonian Public Broadcasting as well as for record labels such as ECM and Harmonia Mundi. Since 1997, Marrit Gerretz-Traksmann has been a Senior Lecturer in Instrumental Chamber Music at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre, while also teaching piano and chamber ensemble at the Tallinn School of Music and Ballet.
Download the liner notes in Estonian (3 pages, PDF)
See other recordings of Arvo Pärt by ERP: Vater Unser, Early Music of 3rd Millennium, Contra aut pro?, Pilgrim’s Song, 100 Years of Estonian Symphony, Ellerhein
See also other recordings of piano solo released by ERP: To the North…, The Soul of Fire, Waltzing Mephisto by the Danube, Heino Eller, Estonian Preludes, Northern Lights Sonata, Von Salzburg bis Reval, The Well-tempered Clavier I, Sergei Rahmaninov. Piano Works, Wiegenlieder der Schmerzen, Call of the Stars, Melancholy, Magic of Sound, Aleksandra Juozapénaité-Eesmaa, Deus ex clavier