PÄRT Complete Works for Violin and Piano
A number of previous recordings of Arvo Pärt’s piano music have been released, including Ralph van Raat (Naxos, 12/11), Katarina Ström-Harg (FP Music) and Jeroen van Veen (Brilliant, 3/14). The latter’s survey of the composer’s complete solo piano music extends to two discs, which begs the question: how can Pärt’s entire output for solo piano and violin be fitted on to one disc?
With a good few minutes to spare, if you happen to be violinist Ursula Schoch and pianist Marcel Worms. Clocking in at just over an hour, Pärt’s music is presented at its most pragmatic and prosaic here. Schoch and Worms don’t hang around. Seemingly incapable of playing slowly, Worms reels off Pärt’s music with almost carefree abandon. His unfussy approach works to an extent in the early neo-classical pieces – as heard in the two Sonatinas and Vier leichte Tanzstücke – or when shaping the edgy pointillistic lines of the atonal Diagramme.
It becomes more problematic when we get to Pärt’s mature works, however. Worms’s overenthusiastic tempo-centricity obliterates the delicate beauty of Variationen zur Gesundung von Arinuschka, and the well-known Fratres for violin and piano is also given a rather uneven treatment. Pärt integrates groups of seven, nine and 11 into the compositional design of this piece with steadfast rigour and regularity, yet on this recording the bar lengths are constantly clipped and elided. Daniel Hope’s performance on ‘Spheres’ (DG, 5/13) is far more convincing.
Spiegel im Spiegel is judged much better but even here Worms’s tempo inexorably accelerates before being pulled back by Schoch’s far steadier violin. The two are on firmer ground with the regular pulse and projection of the Passacaglia for violin and piano, which rounds off the disc, but the precious space between the notes – that key element in Pärt’s music – is, for the most part, missing.