A meeting of minds across the centuries in this imaginatively conceived album

Simone Lamsma, Candida Thompson: Pärt über Bach

The Strad Issue: July 2024

Description: A meeting of minds across the centuries in this imaginatively conceived album

Musicians: Simone Lamsma (violin) Amsterdam Sinfonietta/Candida Thompson (violin)

Works: Bach: Cantata ‘Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis’ BWV21: Sinfonia; ‘Double’ Concerto in C minor BWV1060R (version for two violins). Pärt: Tabula Rasa; Collage über B-A-C-H; Silouan’s Song

Catalogue number: CHANNEL CLASSICS CCS46624

This enterprising programme affirms Bach’s influence on Pärt’s stylistic development. The Amsterdam Sinfonietta offers a dramatic account of Pärt’s three-movement Collage, a significant turning-point after his self-confessed reverence for Bach and his discomfort with his own musical language. Based on the B-A-C-H motif, the work’s heart is its central Sarabande, in which Pärt’s ‘hateful’ music is juxtaposed with phrases from the Sarabande of Bach’s Sixth English Suite, lyrically rendered on the oboe.

Pärt later drew invaluable sustenance from silence, something that features prominently in the text-based Silouan’s Song and the haunting ‘Silentium’ of his Tabula Rasa, in which his expressive ‘tintinnabuli’ idiom is used to striking effect. Simone Lamsma and Candida Thompson immerse themselves in a concentrated account of ‘Silentium’ and dispatch the technical pyrotechnics of the preceding (‘Ludus’) variations and cadenza with precision and aplomb.

Both works by Bach are arrangements, Lamsma and Thompson masquerading as interweaving oboist and violin in the cantata movement and performing the concerto in a thoroughly ‘modern’, largely unembellished manner. They play its Allegros with energy and buoyancy and, over a soothing organ backdrop, bring a seamless cantabile dialogue to the Adagio, even if their regular ritardandos at cadences of melodic handover become mannered. The resonant recording seems to transform the Sinfonietta into a much larger ensemble.