RDSO to end season with Pärt

The RDSO Chamber Series is wrapping up the season with the sparse, hypnotic sounds of minimalist composer Arvo Pärt, whose music was featured in the film There Will Be Blood.

Oboe player Melody McKnight will be playing notes very quickly and crossing between registers as the RDSO wraps up its season on Sunday.

The RDSO Chamber Series is wrapping up the season with the sparse, hypnotic sounds of minimalist composer Arvo Pärt, whose music was featured in the film There Will Be Blood.

Pärt created his Fratres for String Quartet in 1977 after spending almost a decade in near seclusion, rethinking his entire approach to music.

“He lived almost like a hermit for a while,” said Red Deer Symphony’s music director Claude Lapalme.

But when the Estonian composer re-emerged, his new clean-lined post-modernist works were widely admired by critics and the public.

Pärt explained in an interview with singer Björk that his music tends to carry two different “lines” — the complicated, subjective voice of the sinner, and the simple, clear and objective voice of one who forgives sins.

Björk had previously likened this to the Disney movie Pinocchio, in which the fallible puppet is constantly getting into trouble, but receives unconditional forgiveness from Jiminy Cricket.

A chuckling Pärt admitted that he’d never thought of it like that before — but that’s exactly right.

Fratres is titled after monks and reflects one of Pärt’s common themes; living in a divine or ecstatic state. Lapalme described it as music to meditate by. “It’s almost designed to put you in a stupor — but in a good way.

“You will either like it or you won’t,” he warned — but Lapalme is a fan.

“Pärt is someone I really admire.

“He’s very devoted to his music — almost exclusively so.”

A cello and piano version of Fratres was used to underscore tension in the Oscar-nominated film about a ruthless oilman, There Will Be Blood.

A lighthearted Mozart work and an “autumnal” Brahms piece will make up the balance of the Quartets and Quintets program, which will be performed at 3 p.m. on Sunday at the First Christian Reformed Church, 16 McVicar St., in Red Deer.

Lapalme said Mozart’s Quartet in F for Oboe, Violin, Viola and Cello is a sunny, sweet piece that’s fun to play, but requires a lot of “virtuosity” from musicians — particularly oboe player Melody McKnight, who will be playing notes very quickly and crossing between registers.

“Her part is a real finger-buster,” said Lapalme.

Brahm wrote his Quintet in B Minor for Clarinet and String Quartet near the end of his life.

The four-movement work is so reflective it appears as if the great Romantic-era composer was viewing his life with a hint of regret.

“We don’t know what it was, but with this piece we can take our own psychological journey,” said Lapalme, who noted this work contains one of the great parts for clarinet — an instrument that in this concert will be played by Ilana Dahl.

The other musicians in this last Chamber concert of the season are Naomi Delafield and Brinna Brinkerhoff on violin, Dean O’Brien on viola and Janet Kuschak on cello.

All are RDSO members, except Brinkerhoff, a Calgary-based musician who’s also played with a chamber orchestra in Houston, Tex.

Tickets are $23 from Ticketmaster.


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