Staatsorchester Stuttgart, Dennis Russell Davies conductor. CD Tabula Rasa. ECM New Series Scored for string orchestra and bell.

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Staatsorchester Stuttgart, Dennis Russell Davies conductor. CD Tabula Rasa. ECM New Series Scored for string orchestra and bell.

Duration 6 min. The composer has said: "I had just discovered Britten for myself. Just before his death I began to appreciate the unusual purity of his music — I had had the impression of the same kind of purity in the ballads of Guillaume de Machaut. And besides, for a long time I had wanted to meet Britten personally — and now it would not come to that. Cantus begins with three bell tolls followed by violins, in high register, playing in the descending A minor scale. Each subsequent string group enters an octave lower, beginning their descending scale at half the speed, in what is known as the prolation canon.

Thus, five layers of melody in different registers and tempos are created, accompanied by tintinnabuli voices.

The slowly descending scales create an effect of endless slow-motion falling, and of peace and sadness. The entire composition resembles a single large-scale cadenza, with a tension that seems to want to avoid any final resolution. However, because the Soviet authorities refused to allow the composer to travel to England, Rozhdestvesnky cancelled the performance in protest, which in turn, caused a scandal in the international media.

Dalkey Archive Press, London, , p. Show more Show less. World premiere Completion year Revision year Publishers Universal Edition. Share Facebook Twitter Share.


Arvo Pärt: Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten

Composed: Length: c. Evidently it was only in that moment that I matured enough to realize the magnitude of such a loss. Inexplicable feelings of duty, or even more than that, arose in me — I had just discovered Britten for myself. Apart from that, I had long desired to meet Britten face-to-face, but it was not to be. The three very quiet, widely spaced chimings of a lone bell that open the Cantus initiate music that casts a mesmerizing spell, enveloping one in its transcendental aura for the duration of the piece. When the strings enter, they begin very softly and increase in intensity little by little, reaching to a sustained fortissimo level as they play throughout on variants of a descending scale of A minor.


Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten by Arvo Part

Arvo Part pronounced "pairt" was born in Estonia in Although at that time Estonia was a nascent independent republic, the Soviet Union took control of it in , and stayed except for a brief period under the Nazis, for the next 54 years. Part's musical education began at age 7, and by 14 or 15 he was writing his own compositions. While studying composition at the Tallinn Conservatory it was said of him that: "he just seemed to shake his sleeves and notes would fall out".


Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten

Its appeal is often ascribed to its relative simplicity; a single melodic motif dominates and it both begins and ends with scored silence. However, as the critic Ivan Hewett observes, while it "may be simple in concept And even where the music really is simple in its audible features, the expressive import of those features is anything but. The cantus was composed as an elegy to mourn the December death of the English composer Benjamin Britten. Due to its evocative and cinematic feel, the piece has been used extensively as background accompaniment in both film and television documentaries.


Cantus in memoriam Benjamin Britten

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