Artists Aavik and Žukova impress at the Arvo Pärt Centre

Source: Tõnu Tunnel

Artists Aavik and Žukova impress at the Arvo Pärt Centre

Bachtrack is a music website dedicated to classical music. Founded in January 2008 by David and Alison Karlin, it's the largest site for live classical music today. Recently writer/founder David Karlin visited the Arvo Pärt Centre in Laulasmaa and wrote about the young up-and-coming artists Aavik and Žukova. The pair performed a few pieces showing off the next generation in Estonian music.

The phrase "national treasure" gets overused, but in the case of Arvo Pärt, you can't really argue. So on a first visit to Estonia, there was no doubt about coming to a concert at the Arvo Pärt Centre, set in a pine forest near the composer's home on the Baltic coast some 40km from Tallinn. The Centre was opened three years ago and its 150 seat concert hall is an oak box-within-a-box thing of beauty, sounding as good as it looks.

Arvo Pärt remains Estonia's most performed composer

Photo by Arvo Pärt Centre Facebook

This was also a chance to see one of the young artists that we've interviewed: 23-year old violinist Hans Christian Aavik was performing music with pianist Karolina Žukova to launch their debut album, entitled Aeternus. From the start, the programme certainly didn't lack ambition. The Chaconne from Bach's Violin Partita no. 2 in D minor is one of the behemoths of the solo violin repertoire, requiring virtuosity both at a technical level and at an architectural level. His timbre was good, as was his sense of building a phrase, and he was particularly impressive at the points where the music turns into a long series of clusters of four semiquavers which cross the strings, playing with dexterity and evenness, without slowing the pulse of the music even by a fraction.

Schubert's Violin Sonata in A minor, D.385 is music that washes over one in successive waves, each one subtly modifying the wave that has come before it. Žukova proved herself to be an adept chamber pianist with an excellent touch. Her legato was as smooth as you could ask for, she could lend shape to a phrase and her weightings of each note or chord were always well chosen. The interplay between the two musicians came across as confident and intuitive. The Minuet was another impressive performance from both musicians.

The Arvo Pärt Centre

Surrounding by a pine forest, the centre is ideal for immersing yourself in music

Photo by Arvo Pärt Centre Facebook

And so on to Pärt's Fratres – music that is very different from the Bach or Schubert melodically or harmonically, but which shares that overall construction of waves of sound, each taking you to a different mental place. Fittingly, this was the most persuasive of the three works: the opening crescendo was exciting, the piano entry superbly done, the interplay of heavy piano chords and four note figures on the violin thrilling, the high harmonics on the violin wonderfully ethereal. As with the Bach, Aavik was able to generate excitement by the density of notes increasing while the pulse stays rock steady. Fratres is a repetitive piece – but played like this, it proves that repetition can thrill, each return of a phrase sounding as an old friend showing us a different side of their character.

Are you interested in knowing more about the story? You can read on about the performance by Aavik and Žukova.

Last updated : 18.11.2021