Arvo Pärt ǀ Robert Wilson – The Lost Paradise

27.09.2015 23:30

He is the most performed contemporary composer in the world. Nevertheless, he also rarely ventures out in public, keeps quiet about his music, feels at home in the forests of Estonia and generates therewith – perhaps involuntarily – the impression of a recluse, which is attributed to him again and again: Arvo Pärt.

The Estonian composer, who will celebrate his 80th birthday on September 11, 2015, verily exudes even solely by his appearance an aura of a mystic or an ascetic. He himself says: “I am no prophet, no cardinal, not a monk, not even a vegetarian.” But he is without a doubt a devout man, who has been a member of the Russian Orthodox Church since 1970, and under pressure from the former Soviet apparatus of power was forced to leave his native Estonia in 1980. Via Vienna he arrived in Berlin, which for the next 30 years would become his second home and also the starting point for his international career.

“The Lost Paradise” is the first international documentary about Arvo Pärt. It is quite an astonishment that such a shy artist has given his consent to be accompanied by a camera for an entire year: In his native Estonia, traveling to Germany, Italy, and Japan, where Pärt received the Praemium Imperiale, the world’s most prestigious award in the field of music, in October 2014.

The film is framed by the identically named stage production “Adam’s Passion,” featuring three key works by Arvo Pärt, which American director Robert Wilson will bring to the stage in May 2015 in a former submarine factory, the “Noblessner Foundry” in Tallinn.

In addition to documenting rehearsals, the film accompanies Arvo Pärt in Estonia, where he has now been living for five years with his wife Nora. It is here in the forests and at the sea in Tallinn that the composer finds the peace inherent in his works. Like Robert Wilson, Pärt is also fascinated by light and color. Whereas Wilson sees light as “the most important part of the theater,” Pärt notes, “I could compare my music to white light, which contains all colors.”

The film “The Lost Paradise” captures the lighting atmosphere and nature of the protagonist’s home countries as well as the lighting and landscapes present on stage. The silence essential to Arvo Pärt’s music and the expressive powers of movement are transported through carefully composed images. This is juxtaposed by the velocity and clamor of everyday life, be it in big cities, on the road, or in the ship factory adjacent to the “Noblessner Foundry” that still remains active. The film culminates in the impressive premiere of “Adam’s Passion,” where music and staging echo the biographies and worldviews of their creators.

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