In the last two years, I’ve listened to more and more classical music. I don’t go to concerts or buy records, but if I’m at home, I’ll probably have the radio on ABC Classic. I used to always listen to that station in the car as well, but I tend to spend more time listening to my Persian/Farsi lessons now.
It’s interesting, though, that after all this time listening to classical music, I don’t feel like I know much more about it. I can recognise the names of a lot more composers, but if you just played me a piece of music, I probably would not be able to tell you who wrote it (except maybe Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, which is quite distinct, but you’d have to play the right part for me to recognise).
Now and then, a song will come on that I recognise, and I think “oh, I’ve heard this one before; it’s quite lovely”, but it’s highly unlikely that I’ll remember the name of it or the composer.
Recently, however, I learnt about Estonian composer Arvo Pärt and his song Spiegel im Spiegel, and I think it is a piece that I will always recognise when I hear it.
According to Wikipedia, the piece was written for piano and violin, but the rendition that was played on ABC Classic was performed with a piano and cello (apparently this is a common variation). More specifically, it was played by Sally Maer (cello) and Sally Whitwell (piano). Pause and have a listen if you can:
If the comments on YouTube videos are anything to go by, a lot of people think this piece is profound in its simplicity. Comments on another rendition tended to be more melancholic, and several people said they associate this with a loved one who has passed away. For others, it evokes an image of the slow end of the world, a gentle drifting into darkness.
ABC Classic seemed to play this piece a lot around Anzac Day, probably for its poignant and plaintive quality.
When I hear Spiegel im Spiegel, I feel as if I’m being prompted to remember and forget at the same time. I find it both stirring and calming — a progression and digression. But I think this is quite fitting because the title translates to “mirror(s) in mirror”, alluding to the infinite reflections produced when two mirrors face each other directly. It’s a constant back and forth, reaching further and further.