Hymn to a Great City
Minimalism can be seen as the moment music re-entered the monastery. The act of stripping sound down to its bare essentials was from the beginning of the movement associated with spiritual ways of thinking. All of the American Minimalists eventually went down a religious road (Riley and Young embraced yogic meditation, Glass Tibetan Buddhism, and Reich Orthodox Judaism). The connection between religion and Minimalism was even closer in Communist Eastern Europe. There, where dissonance meant you were a traitor and tonality a lackey of the State, Minimalism was seen as a happy third way. The Estonian Arvo Pärt developed one of the most sophisticated Minimalist languages – one that was based on the evocation of bells. This tintinnabular style can be heard in this short two-piano piece in the repeated G-sharps and the sudden high cartwheels of the first piano part. The second pianist is unfailingly loyal to the home key, returning to a perfect cadence in every bar, lending the piece an incantatory quality. The great city of the title is New York.