Alexei Lubimov /SWR Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra / Andrey Boreyko ARVO PÄRT Lamentate

Written for large orchestra and solo piano, and commissioned for a series of live events at Tate Modern, “Lamentate” was inspired by Pärt’s encounter with the enormous sculpture “Marsyas”, by Bombay-born artist Anish Kapoor. 150 metres long, “Marsyas” filled the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall for a year. Named for the Greek satyr flayed alive by the god Apollo, the piece consists of three enormous steel rings joined by a single span of dark red PVC membrane. The colour was intended by the artist to suggest blood and the body, and the sculpture dwarfed the viewer, too large to be viewed in its entirety from any single position: “I wanted to make body into sky”, says Kapoor.
For Arvo Pärt the dimensions of the work were breathtaking: “My first impression was that I, as a living being, was standing before my own body and was dead – as in a time-warp perspective, at once in the future and the present. ... In this moment I had a strong sense of not being ready to die. And I was moved to ask myself just what I could still manage to accomplish in the time left to me.”
“Lamentate” then, is a lament not for the dead, but for the living, who must struggle “with the pain and hopelessness of this world.” The solo piano role is designated by the composer to represent “one”, the individual, buffeted by fate. It can be viewed, he writes, “as a first person narrative”. Pärt: “The work is marked by diametrically opposed moods... Exaggerating slightly, I would characterize these poles as ‘brutal-overwhelming’ and ‘intimate-fragile’.” In the present recording, the solo protagonist Alexei Lubimov sails the sea of circumstance with extraordinary fluency, negotiating ferocious tidal waves and ominous calms. The luminescent quality to his playing, which recently served Silvestrov’s “Metamusik” and “Postludium” so well is very much to the fore, sustaining the sense of quasi-improvisational freshness that was one of Pärt’s original goals for this work. Conductor Andrey Boreyko, marshalling the instrumental forces of the SWR Radio Symphony Orchestra Stuttgart, maintains the emotional pressure throughout a very engaged performance of a work that concludes in a dialogue of reminiscences, of laments and consolations.

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