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