I first came across Arvo Pärt’s work when this piece showed up on late-night FM radio in the mid-1980s. “Musonautas”, I think it was… maybe “Subterrâneos de Veludo”; either way, courtesy of Rui Neves and Jorge Lima Barreto. To say this piece became an epiphany is not an overstatement: it opened up a new way of listening and engaging with harmony and sound – and the narrative element that emerges, beyond words, but definitely there.
The depth and density of emotions envisioned through this piece still astound me: there is an overall mournful tone to it (and that does fit my current mood), but in-between the sombre tones there is a glimpse of hope just shining through. There is wisdom, beauty, faith, humility – all qualities that seem to have been torn into pieces in recent times.
And as is the case in all paradoxes, the absence of these traits in today’s World somehow makes this piece more resonant.
I have had the pleasure and privilege of listening to plenty of Pärt’s work throughout the years, but I keep returning to this particular one (and this particular arrangement) as one of my true anchors.