SOMM Recordings and former BBC Young Musician Competition prize- winner Cordelia Williams present two sublime voices together for the first time on disc in a poetic and probing coupling of the solo piano music of JS Bach – musical laureate of 17th-century Protestantism – and Arvo Pärt, principal voice of contemporary Holy Minimalism.
Although a quarter of a millennia separates their births – Bach in 1685, Pärt in 1935 – both share a conviction that faith in God, as Williams notes in her introductory essay, “is the foundation of the creation of music”.
This pioneering coupling of the two composers reveals a surprising latticework of connections in their constant, shared striving for economy and essence.
Pärt’s signature chiming ‘tintinnabuli’ style is beautifully evoked in three pieces designed to console and comfort their dedicatees: the tolling, melancholic profundity of Für Alina; the quietly majestic and moving Für Anna Maria and the limpid, liquid invention of Variationen zur Gesundung von Arinuschka.
Composed for his 10-year-old son, Wilhelm Friedemann (himself later a composer of distinction), Bach’s twin sets of 15 Two-part Inventions (BWV 772-86) and 15 Three-part Sinfonias (BWV 787-801) are much more than mere pedagogic primers. Williams finds in them a richness of technical design far beyond their apparent simplicity.
Here, Williams reverts to Bach’s original ordering of the pieces to chart a subtly revealing way through music as intimate as it is illuminating.
The lightness, lyricism and economy of the Praeambulum from the first ‘Little Prelude’ (BWV 924) is something that Pärt, in less stringent mood, might well have produced and would certainly have appreciated.
Cordelia Williams’ all-Schubert debut on SOMM was praised for her “brilliantly fluid technique and unassuming mastery of the piano” (Classic FM), her all-Schumann follow-up hailed by The Sunday Times as “commanding and sensitive”.
On This Recording
- Für Anna Maria 15 Two-part Inventions
- No. 1 in C major, BWV 772
- 1No. 4 in D minor, BWV 775
- No. 7 in E minor, BWV 778
- No. 8 in F major, BWV 779
- No. 10 in G major, BWV 781
- No. 13 in A minor, BWV 784
- No. 15 in B minor, BWV 786
- No. 14 in B flat major, BWV 785
- No. 12 in A major, BWV783
- No. 11 in G minor, BWV 782
- No. 9 in F minor, BWV 780
- No. 6 in E major, BWV 777
- No. 5 in E flat major, BWV 776
- No. 3 in D major, BWV 774
- No. 2 in C minor, BWV 773
- Für Alina 15 Three-part Inventions (Sinfonias)
- No. 1 in C major, BWV 787
- No. 4 in D minor, BWV 790
- No. 7 in E minor, BWV 793
- No. 8 in F major, BWV 794
- No. 10 in G major, BWV 796
- No. 13 in A minor, BWV 799
- No. 15 in B minor, BWV 801
- No. 14 in B flat major, BWV 800
- No. 12 in A major, BWV 798
- No. 11 in G minor, BWV 797
- No. 9 in F minor, BWV 795
- No. 6 in E major, BWV 792
- No. 5 in E flat major, BWV 791
- No. 3 in D major, BWV 789
- No. 2 in C minor, BWV 788
- Variationen zur Gesundung von Arinuschka
- Praeambulum in C major, BWV 924 (from Klavierbüchlein für Wilhelm Friedemann Bach