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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA68056
Recording details: August 2013
All Hallows, Gospel Oak, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Adrian Peacock
Engineered by David Hinitt
Release date: October 2014
Total duration: 5 minutes 58 seconds

First line:
do re mi fa so la si …
1963; SATB unaccompanied
author of text

View whole album
October 2014 Release

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Composed in 1963, the same year as his densely dissonant orchestral work Perpetuum mobile, Solfeggio is definitively Pärt’s sparest work from those early years. Using the C major scale as an ascending tone row, a strict serial process gives a tantalizing glimpse of the composer’s later choral style. The spirit of composure and control fifteen or twenty years hence is presaged right here, in the midst of his atonal investigations.

The notes of the scale are literally spelled out in solfège by each successive vocal entry (in a very different way to Rodgers and Hammerstein’s ‘do, re, mi’ equivalent in The Sound of Music four years earlier). Each note is held for the same duration throughout, and each follows a minim later than the previous one. The adjacent tones and semitones of the scale are transposed into successive sevenths and ninths, creating layers of dissonance which belie the simplicity and logic of the compositional process. And here the spirits of Pärt-the-modernist and Pärt-the-tintinnabulist converge. Serial music, famously, requires rigid adherence to compositional ground rules, and Pärt’s early scores, such as this one, indicate such scrupulous precision. The same exactitude and discipline is there with his tintinnabulist works. It is just that one set of rules enables, or demands, great complexity—and the other, great simplicity.

from notes by Meurig Bowen © 2014

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