Fratres means Brothers. It is a composition by the Estonian composer Arvo Pärt (b. 1935). The first time I heard this piece was very early this century. My wife and I were visiting a teacher friend of hers. This tune was playing on the stereo. I was fascinated.
Wikipedia says that Fratres exemplifies Pärt’s “tintinnabuli style of composition. It is three-part music, written in 1977, without fixed instrumentation and has been described as a ‘mesmerising set of variations on a six-bar theme combining frantic activity and sublime stillness that encapsulates Pärt’s observation that ‘the instant and eternity are struggling within us.'” Yes, “mesmerizing” is an accurate description.
Linus Åkesson writes: “The analytical meets the aesthetical as Pärt takes us on a meditative, harmonical journey, built up from a simple set of mathematical rules. Many people who listen to Fratres find it repetitive or even boring at first. After a while, though, they start to unconsciously recognize some of the patterns in the music.” I never found it boring.
It turns out that many variations of this work exist, involving combinations of strings, percussion, recorders, piano, trombone, saxophone, and guitar.
Saxophone soprano: José Pedro Gonçalinho