CD Reviews - 2000s

In this page you can browse a selection of CDs with works by Arvo Pärt that have been released in the current decade, with catalogue details and reviews. CDs are listed by release date, the most recent releases appearing first.

28 albums listed.


23 January 2007 | EMI Classics

Vasari Singers - Jeremy Backhouse (conductor)
Litany - Magnificat - Nunc dimittis - Seven Magnificat-Antiphons - The Beatitudes
Review coming soon ...


12 September 2006 | Harmonia Mundi

Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir - Paul Hillier (conductor)
Da pacem Domine - Dopo la vittoria - Magnificat - Nunc dimitis - Salve Regina - Zwei slawische Psalmen
Review coming soon ...


3 April 2006 | Universal Classics and Jazz 4763160

The Sixteen - Harry Christophers (conductor)
De Profundis - O Weisheit - The Woman with the Alabaster Box
© OMH — Helen Wright
The Sixteen, under the baton of Harry Christophers, are renowned for their exquisite sound, bringing a quality to choral recordings that's hard to beat. Following their success in the Classical Brit Awards in 2005 with Renaissance - Music For Inner Peace, Ikon takes a trip East to capture some of the deeply spiritual music from Russia and Estonia.
The Sixteen is now somewhat of a misnomer, as the credited voices now number 29, and there are also English composers represented in this album - Holst, Tavener and James MacMillan - so Ikon must be taken to represent the spirit rather than the letter of the content.
And there's certainly some gorgeous content here, together with what we have come to expect from this group: just-about-perfect singing, balance and empathy with the music.
The selections of Arvo Pärt's cannon are always going to be a highlight for me, his deceptive simplicity producing, as always, profoundly moving works. De Profundis, a setting of Psalm 130 ("Out of the depths I have cried to Thee, O Lord"), based on Pärt's concept of 'tintinnabulation' (little bells) sets a portentous vocal line against a backdrop of gentle percussion to hair-raising effect. The wonderfully-named The Woman With The Alabaster Box, setting words from St Matthew's Gospel, is equally atmospheric.
Tavener is represented by the serene Exhortation and Kohima, elegies to the fallen of the first and second world wars respectively, and by the haunting Hymn To Athene, brought to the British consciousness so memorably during the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales.
There are two settings of the Nunc Dimittis (Lord, now lettest Thy servant depart in peace): one by the Russian composer Kalinnikov (1870-1927) sung in Russian - brief but exquisite - and an equally beautiful version by Gustav Holst. This was first performed in 1915 in Westminster Cathedral and then unaccountably lost, until a revised version provided by the composer's daughter Imogen was performed in 1974.
Another virtually unknown Russian composer, Pavel Chesnokov (1877-1944), provides two tracks: Bless The Lord, O My Soul and We Hymn Thee. Both are meditative pieces (the former is the introductory Psalm of Vespers, the latter one of the most solemn moments of the Orthodox Divine Liturgy). Chesnokov was one of the leading choral conductors in Russia and wrote more than 500 works - these make one want to investigate further.
Perhaps the most surprising pieces here are those by the Russian composers we all know and love, but don't often hear in the context of church music - Stravinsky and Rachmaninov. Ave Maria, the simplest possible setting of the familiar, is just about as far from the drama of so many of Stravinsky's works that I would challenge any listener to guess the composer. His Pater Noster retains the simplicity but injects some drama into the Lord's Prayer.
Rachmaninov's sublime but detached Rejoice, O Virgin - the opening track - is also not perhaps what one would expect from this romantic composer, though it doesn't resist the urge to gather pace and volume. The Cherubic Hymn from Rachmaninov's Liturgy of St John Crysostom, Op. 31 (as is his version of We Hymn Thee) is, likewise, stirring but surprisingly cool, showing us another side of the composer.
I have left the best 'til last - the real glory on this album, for me at least, are the pieces by James MacMillan: they make me want to hear much, much more by this contemporary composer. A Child's Prayer, composed in response to the tragic killing of children in Dunblane in 1996, is extraordinarily moving. The two soprano voices soar above the deeper choral line with the simple refrain - "Welcome Jesu / Deep in my soul forever stay" and it's music that eats into your soul, helped by some gorgeous discords.
And even better is A New Song, which sets verses of Psalm 96 - "O sing unto the Lord a new song". It starts like the simplest of folk-based tunes, and gradually develops into a piece of mystery and overwhelming beauty, with Huw Williams on the organ providing the most delicate of touches. The organ, while always remaining subtly in the background, sounds like rippling water, delicately tinkling bells, wind... occasionally, when finally allowed to take over from the purity of the voices... even an organ. Sublime, and worth the price of the whole album, even if the remainder wasn't so searingly lovely.
Another stupendous recording from The Sixteen - and another Brit Award? I wouldn't be at all surprised.


30 August 2005 | ECM Records 4763048

Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra - The Hilliard Ensemble - Sarah Leonard (soprano)
© BBC Radio 3 — Andrew McGregor
Is the Estonian master moving in a new direction in his seventies? He seems to be telling us as much in Lamentate. Yes, you'll hear some of the multi-layered string sonorities and meditative qualities that have become so familiar in Pärt's patented 'ancient-invades-modern' scores, and yet there's a new sense of dramatic power, and a dynamic scale and impatient urgency of communication that's compelling.
Pärt was looking at Anish Kapoor's immense sculpture Marsyas, named after the Greek satyr who was flayed alive after losing a musical contest with Apollo. Pärt felt as though he was looking at his own dead body, and had a strong sense that he was not yet ready to die ... so what could he achieve in the time he had left to live?
On this evidence, a great deal. Lamentate is a lament not for the dead but the living, struggling with the pain and hopelessness of the world. After a subterranean rumble, a sorrowful fanfare makes way for an ascent of the solo piano keyboard, and a shuddering orchestral climax that sets the tolling of alarm bells against a Mahlerian funeral march. After the work that precedes it (the Hilliard Ensemble's performance of Da pacem Domine, a gently rocking prayer for peace) the effect is doubly shattering. Impressive performances, a seductive ECM recording, and works that no-one with an interest in contemporary art and music can afford to miss.


9 August 2005 | Harmonia Mundi 907407

Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir - Theatre of Voices - Paul Hillier (conductor)
Agnus Dei - Bogoroditse Djevo - Credo - Dopo la vittoria - I am the True Vine - Magnificat - Solfeggio - The Woman with the Alabaster Box - Veni Sancte Spiritus
© — David Vernier
Anyone who has followed choral music during the past 30 years —and especially the last couple of decades— knows at least some of the works of Estonian composer Arvo Pärt. This compilation features a fair selection of his more recent (primarily a cappella) pieces from the 1990s, but if you already own the earlier recordings from which these are drawn, you'll find a nice bonus here: the newly recorded Dopo la vittoria (Following the victory). This substantial 11-minute "picola cantata", premiered in 1997, tells of St. Ambrose and his famous hymn Te Deum. No doubt this lively (some parts sound like folk-dance) and dramatically varied work —another masterpiece of text-explication and expressive use of vocal color and texture— will gain many performances and enthusiastic audiences, joining Pärt favorites such as Bogoroditse Djevo, Magnificat, and the Berliner Messe.
Although it's these latter two works that perhaps are most closely identified with Pärt's unique "tintinnabuli" style —the endlessly resonating triads and undulating, register-shifting consonances and dissonances— The Woman with the Alabaster Box and I am the True Vine may be his most purely, fundamentally beautiful compositions, melodically, harmonically, and from the standpoint of choral sound and texture. Whatever your preference, this is important and profoundly moving music in which almost anyone can find meaning, even spiritual resonance. The performances are uniformly excellent, even essential, and the recordings couldn't be better. This tribute to Pärt on his 70th birthday is an absolute joy.


2 May 2005 | Naxos 855818283

Elora Festival Orchestra - Hungarian State Opera Orchestra - Noel Edison (conductor)
Berlin Mass - Collage über B-A-C-H - Fratres for cello and piano - Fratres for percussion and strings - Für Alina - Passio (excerpts) - Pro et Contra - Spiegel im Spiegel - Triodion
Review coming soon ...


1 May 2005 | EMI Classics 5859142

Choir of King's College Cambridge - Paavo Järvi - Tasmin Little - Vasari Singers
Cantus in memoriam Benjamin Britten - Festina lente - Fratres - Magnificat - Spiegel im Spiegel - Summa
Review coming soon ...


19 October 2004 | Naxos 8557299

Elora Festival Singers - Noel Edison (conductor) - Jurgen Petrenko (organ)
Berlin Mass - Cantate Domino - De profundis - Magnificat - Summa - The Beatitudes
Album Description
With a number of modern classics already to his name, notably the Symphony No. 3, Tabula rasa, Fratres and Cantus in memoriam Benjamin Britten, culminating in 1982 with his largest work thus far, the St John Passion, Arvo Pärt has during the past 20 years consolidated his reputation as one of the most significant composers at work today with a sequence of magnificent sacred choral works. The present recording provides an overview of Pärt’s mature idiom with works written on either side of the Passion, and in which a gradual expressive opening out and harmonic enrichment of the composer’s musical vocabulary can be detected. The Magnificat is perhaps Pärt’s most immediately appealing choral work whose alternation of solo and tutti sections imparts a powerful spiritual aura.


13 July 2004 | Virgin Classics 5456302

Estonian National Symphony Orchestra - Paavo Järvi (conductor) - Truls Mørk (cello)
Meie aed - Perpetuum mobile - Pro et Contra for cello and orchestra - Symphony No. 1 - Symphony No. 2 Editorial Review
Fans of Arvo Pärt's gorgeous brand of minimalism —all soft, neo-medieval and tintinablular— will be enormously surprised by this program. The six pieces were composed before his re-examination and re-emergence in 1976, after a five-year period of silence. They are what one thinks of when one thinks of a certain variety of fascinating, if noisy and vaguely unpleasant "modern" music, the type of work one expects to hear led by Pierre Boulez. In other words, we are dealing here with atonality, experimentalism, and serialism. There are huge sonic clusters designed to upset, and statements about music are made by the music itself. The opening piece, Pro et Contra, essentially a concerto for cello, begins with a lovely D major chord which is immediately followed by a huge crash of dissonance; it is shocking and it is meant to be. The Second Symphony features the sounds of kid's squeaky toys. The brief piece from Pärt's student period, Meie Aed, is for girl's choir and is entirely gentle and tonal —a grand piece of Soviet goodness. Perpetuum Mobile is a seven-minute crescendo which can knock you off your seat. The playing and singing, under Paavo Järvi, are spectacular. In brief, this is not the Part you've come to know and love, but it's fascinating to hear what he was like before he became who he was.
© The Cincinati Post (30/09/2004) — Mary Ellyn Hutton
You'll feel like a locomotive hit you when you hear Arvo Pärt's 1963 Perpetuum Mobile on this latest CD by Paavo Järvi and the Estonian National Orchestra. Not only does it really sound like that —a blot of sound on the horizon that builds to head-banging intensity— but this is not what most people think Pärt's music is like. There is nothing here of the Estonian composer's well known "tintinnabuli" music, connoting serenity, mysticism and his Russian Orthodox faith. This is early Pärt, where he experimented with serial, collage and aleatory (chance) styles. And it is powerful, enlightening and rewarding —literally, in the extreme.
The title cut featuring cellist Truls Mørk illustrates the way Pärt cross cut modern techniques with tonalism as a commentary not only on the direction of music in the 20th-century, but perhaps as a veiled protest against Soviet oppression in Estonia (he now lives in Berlin). After opening on a big D-major chord, cello and orchestra explore 12-tone and coloristic techniques, occasionally returning to the tranquil waters of tonalism.
Also here are his Symphonies No. 1 and 2, both thought- and ear-provoking (Cincinnati Symphony audiences will hear No. 2 in January, so this CD is required listening).
There is a "corrective" in Pärt's 1959 Meie Aed (Our Garden), a bright, sunny cantata for children's voices featuring the Ellerhein Girls' Choir (Grammy winners with Järvi, the ENO and Estonian National Male Choir for "Sibelius Cantatas").
And you will probably "get it" in Collage über B-A-C-H, where Pärt mixes one of his idols, J.S. Bach, with tone clusters and other compositional "mayhem" for a truly delightful result.


29 June 2004 | Black Box 1071

Chamber Domaine - Choir of St Mary's Cathedral Edinburgh
Es sang vor langen Jahren - Magnificat - My Heart is in the Highlands - Nunc dimittis - Stabat Mater
Review coming soon ...


31 May 2004 | BIS 1392

Vadim Gluzman (violin) - Angela Yoffe (violin)
Fratres - Spiegel im Spiegel
Review coming soon ...


13 January 2004 | DG 4717692

Swedish Radio Choir - Esa-Pekka Salonen (conductor) - Hélène Grimaud (piano)
Credo for piano solo and orchestra
Review coming soon ...


14 October 2003 | Hyperion 67375

Polyphony - Stephen Layton (conductor)
Doppo la vittoria - I am the True Vine - Littlemore tractus - My Heart is in the Highlands - Nunc dimittis - Triodion
Review coming soon ...


29 April 2003 | Naxos 8555860

Tonus Peregrinus - Antony Pitts (conductor)
Passio Domini nostri Jesu Christi secundum Johannem
Editorial Review
Composed in 1982 and later recorded by the Hilliard Ensemble on ECM, Arvo Pärt's Passio (Passion According to St. John) made its composer famous, and rightly so. It is a work of unique beauty. Its meditative, intensely spiritual quality is static. The listener will find no outbursts or overtly dramatic moments to latch on to as one does in Bach's Passions. Here the story is told with a lack of overt emotionalism which quickly becomes hypnotic. Jesus is a bass, he is accompanied by an organ, all his words are intoned slowly, on lengthy note values. The role of the Evangelist is taken by four voices: a soprano, alto, tenor, and bass, and they are accompanied, on short note values and in different groupings, by one each of violin, cello, oboe, and bassoon. Pilate is a tenor.
This new performance cuts 10 minutes off the 71-minute timing on the ECM recording. Still, it can't be accused of treating the music lightly or with anything other than the respect and dignity it deserves. The final eight-word prayer, which ends in a beautiful, life-affirming D-major chord is taken, in fact, too slowly. The novice listener may presume one of the too-long pauses is the work's end. But aside from this miscalculation, this new performance is glorious, and at less than half the price of the ECM, should be in the collection of anyone interested in devotional music, beautiful music, and the phenomenon that is Arvo Pärt. Very highly recommended.


11 February 2003 | Harmonia Mundi France 907311

Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir - Paul Hillier (conductor)
... which was the son of ... Editorial Review
This remarkable collection of choral music by Baltic composers opens our ears to both their similarities and differences. There are folk influences aplenty (from Veijo Tormis in particular), but also some surprises. Sven-David Sandstrom's Hear my prayer takes Purcell's piece of the same name as a jumping-off point, and although his treatment is modern, the lamentation remains vivid. Arvo Part's history of Jesus' genealogy, sung in English, is almost fun in its seemingly endless repetition of which was the son of, while Rautavaara's four-part, seven-minute Lorca Suite is a fascinating study in miniatures. Vasks's Dona nobis pacem (the only piece with orchestral accompaniment) has a hypnotic downward vocal sequence that contrasts with the rising strings. The other works hold the interest as well, and the ubiquitous and gifted Paul Hillier leads the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir in lush performances. Fans of the great Eastern choral tradition won't want to miss this.


11 February 2003 | Alia Box 9826

Hesperion XXI - Jordi Savall (conductor) - Montserrat Figueras (soprano)
Berceuse de Noel - Kuus kuus kallike Editorial Review
This is a formidable collection of lullabies, spanning 500 years, 18 of them (from almost as many countries) in Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Catalan, English, and more, each one lovely, each one in its own idiom. Some are anonymous; others are by composers as different as Byrd, Mussorgsky, Milhaud, and Arvo Pärt. The disc shouldn't be listened to in one setting —no matter how interesting they are, they're still lullabies and can mellow the listener into torpor— but in three-or-so chunks, the contents are fascinating. Figueras can make her sound move from folk to classical, from a mother who is passionate about her child's safety to one who merely wants to entertain into slumber. The anonymous Greek lullaby (track 3) contains the oddest little vocal quirk —a whipping up of the tone at the close of some phrases— which only an artist like Figueras could pull off. And Savall and soloists accompany on various instruments —flute, harp, viols, etc.— with pianist Paul Badura-Skoda playing on three of the lullabies. The CD is a wonderful tour of the world through the centuries with only one subject in mind: sleep. And sleep is something, after all, that takes up a third of our lives. This CD keeps getting sweeter the more you listen. Recommended.


18 November 2002 | Arion 68595

Vox Clamantis - Aare-Paul Lattik (organ)
Annum per annum - Mein Weg hat Gipfel und Wellentäler - Pari intervallo - Trivium
Review coming soon ...


11 November 2002 | Virgin Classics 5455012

Estonian National Symphony Orchestra - Paavo Järvi (conductor)
Cantus in memoriam Benjamin Britten - Festina lente - Fratres - Silouans Song - Summa - Symphony No. 3 - Trisagion
Review coming soon ...


23 September 2002 | ECM Records 472080

Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra - Swedish Radio Choir - Tõnu Kaljuste (conductor)
Como cierva sedienta - Orient & Occident - Pilgrim's Song
Review coming soon ...


14 May 2001 | Winter & Winter 55

Lorenzo Ghielmi (organ)
Annum per annum - Mein Weg hat Gipfel und Wellentäler - Pari intervallo - Trivium Editorial Review
From the opening church bell sounds, you realize that Tintinnabulum isn't your typical organ recital CD. Instead, Winter & Winter has made an album of sonic connections, a disc that sits the haunting "tintinnabuli" style works of Estonian composer Arvo Pärt alongside 16th and 17th century works by John Redford, William Byrd, and others. Whether from Pärt or his forebears, the music played here is gorgeous and sparse, and organist Lorenzo Ghielmi performs it with solid authority. The programming is innovative enough (church bell field recordings are sporadically introduced between tracks), but Pärt's Annum per Annum is the real showstopper. The nine-minute work emphasizes the organ's ability to create both distorted drones and stark lyricism; it's one of the composer's best short pieces. In typical Winter & Winter fashion, the packaging on this disc is beautiful and the liner notes are nonexistent. But even without a solid explanation for why these works were chosen for this disc, you can hear their brilliance and draw your own conclusions. A must-have for organ music lovers.
Review by Peter Huss
Despite its slightly misleading subtitle "Organ works by Arvo Pärt", there are only 4 tracks by Arvo Pärt on this CD. However, they are the highlight of the whole disc. In particular, Annum per Annum is superbly executed at the organ by Ghielmi, and in my opinion the best piece in the disc. The dissonant tonalities of the organ will surprise many listeners without a doubt. Also excellent, and perhaps the most serene of the four pieces, is Pari intervallo. Besides Pärt's pieces, two recordings of church bells and the great anonymous 16th century pieces make this quite a unique disc.


9 May 2001 | Finlandia 871822

Candomino Choir - Tauno Satomaa (conductor)
Passio Domini nostri Jesu Christi secundum Johannem
Editorial Review
Written in 1982, this work represents Arvo Pärt's late style, whose central elements are medieval and Renaissance modes and triads. Its static quality, narrow melodic compass, and repetitiousness make the music an acquired taste. But its monastic austerity, solemnity, and stark simplicity seem to offer an oasis of calm in a restless world. Those who associate the "Passion" with Bach's version are in for several surprises. Pärt uses the familiar text but in Latin, which has the effect of putting listeners at a distance from the events described. The Evangelist's narration is delivered by four soloists, alternately or together; the part of Pilate is given to a tenor; the Chorus represents the multitude as well as certain characters; and the accompanying group consists of instrumental soloists. Only Jesus remains a baritone.
The piece begins, and essentially remains, in A minor, revolving around and returning to the A minor triad. The rhythmic motion is consistently in unison; there is no counterpoint or independence of voices. Contrast is created by changes in vocal register and instrumental timbre. The music is slow and homophonic; motion and dissonance are reserved for climactic moments: the striking of Jesus, the flagellation, and especially the Crucifixion. Pilate's lyrical tenor voice adds fervor to his pleading for Jesus and his refusal to pass judgment on him, thus reinforcing the old contention that St. John's Gospel is tainted by anti-Semitism. Jesus' words upon the cross have an otherworldly feeling; the piece ends with his death on a sudden, brilliant D major chord. The performance could not be better. The singers are all splendid, and Jorma Hynninen as Jesus makes one wish to hear him in Bach's Passions.


4 April 2001 | Telarc 80387

Flanders Fiamminghi Orchestra - Rudolf Werthen (conductor) - Mireille Gleizes
Cantus in memoriam Benjamin Britten - Fratres - Summa
Review coming soon ...


6 November 2000 | Nonesuch 79582

Kremerata Baltica - Gidon Kremer (conductor) - Eri Klas (conductor)
Darf ich - Tabula rasa
Review coming soon ...


9 October 2000 | Decca 4668702

New College Choir Oxford
Sieben Magnificat-Antiphonen (O Weisheit)
Review coming soon ...


10 April 2000 | Harmonia Mundi France 907242

Theatre of Voices - The Pro Arte Singers - Paul Hillier (conductor) - Christopher Bowers-Broadbent (organ)
Berlin Mass - Bogoróditse Djévo - I am the True Vine - Kanon Pokajanen (Ode IX) - The Woman with the Alabaster Box - Tribute to Caesar
© Gramophone (04/2000) — Rob Cowan
Put on the opening seconds of Bogóroditse Djévo ("Rejoice, O Mother of God") —a King's College Choir Commission from 1990 (not 1992 as the booklet claims)— and I challenge anyone who doesn't already know the piece to guess the composer. The tempo is fast, the mood exultant and the tonal colouring decidedly folk-like. What follows is hardly less unexpected, an English setting (one of three in this fine programme) of John, chapter 15, verses 1-14, where Jesus likens himself to "the true vine", and commands his followers to love one another. Here the writing, although subscribing to the tintinnabulation of Part's familiar mature style, covers an especially wide vocal range, and the word-painting is masterly. At 3'51", where Jesus says "If you abide in me, and my words abide in you ..." Pärt sets up a bass pedal, then, with "... ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you" he cues an exquisite blending of lines, sailing his sopranos above his basses.
I Am the True Vine was composed in 1996 for the 900th anniversary of Norwich Cathedral, whereas Tribute to Caesar and The Woman with the Alabaster Box were, as the booklet tells us, commissioned in 1997 for the 350th Anniversary of the Karlstad Diocese in Sweden. Both works bear witness to a widened expressive vocabulary and, like I Am the True Vine, take their creative nourishment from the power of words. Note, in The Woman with the Alabaster Box, the mysterious harmonic computations of "an alabaster box of very precious ointment" (from 0'43"), and the humbling impact of Jesus's critical response to his uncomprehending disciples. In Tribute to Caesar Pärt's setting of the question "is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?" faces a stark parallel when the chorus identifies the superscription on the penny as Caesar's.
The remaining items can also be heard, in one form or another, on alternative recordings. Hillier's reading of the beautiful Ninth Ode from Kanon Pokajanen is slower by some two minutes than Tõnu Kaljuste's premiere recording of the parent work on ECM (an absolute must for Pärt devotees), which is surprising given the less reverberant acoustic on the new CD. Both here and in the Berliner Messe, ECM's sound-frame suggests greater space and tonal weight, though this latest production is equally effective in its own quite different way. Part's "revision" of the Messe is an update of his original score (which is warmly represented in its full-choir guise on Hyperion). In a second version (the one featured on ECM), the organ part was replaced by a string orchestra, whereas a third version (the one offered here) features an organ revision of the string score. Comparing Hillier's vocal quartet recording with Kaljuste's string version with choir finds me more inclined towards the silvery organ registrations in the Credo and depth of organ tone in the Agnus Dei. As for the rest, there's sufficient contrast between the two to warrant owning —or at least hearing— both.
With fine sound quality, first-rate singing (from both the Pro Arte Singers and Theatre of Voices) and concisely worded annotation (by Paul Hillier) this should prove a popular, indeed an essential, addition to Arvo Part's ever-growing discography.


6 March 2000 | Dorian Recordings 93191

The Trinity Choir - Brian Jones (conductor)
Review coming soon ...


8 February 2000 | Philips 456016

Gidon Kremer - Naoko Yoshino
Spiegel im Spiegel for violin and piano
Review coming soon ...


11 January 2000 | Sony Classics 61753

Taverner Choir - Andrew Parrott (conductor) - Alastair Blayden - Michael Stirling - Moray Welsh
Magnificat - Sieben Magnificat-Antiphonen - Fratres for 8 or 12 cellos
© Sony Classical
Arvo Pärt and John Tavener are both contemporary composers whose lushly textured minimalist sounds are imbued with an austere spirituality originating in their shared Eastern Orthodox faith. Both write choral music with a meditative quality that reaches back to medieval chant. Each, however, has a distinct voice that has found its own large audience far beyond the realm of sacred music. This new recording by the early music virtuosi Andrew Parrott and the Taverner Choir makes a compelling offering to fans of choral music and contemporary music as well.
Tavener's music was heard on the internationally broadcast funeral services for the Princess of Wales. The Estonian Pärt has achieved considerable success with recordings of work such as Te Deum, Misere and Litany
CD booklet notes by Ivan Moody
The Seven Magnificat-Antiphons date from eleven years later than Fratres, and are the fruit of Pärt's residence in Western Europe. The musical silence which he sought in his native Estonia, and in writing the works of the late 1970s, has here blossomed into a sequence of brilliant choral images —like the illuminated initials of some medieval manuscript all collected together in one page— on the texts of the "O Antiphons" (the antiphons to the Magnificat from the seven days leading up to Christmas Eve in the Roman Catholic lithurgy, all of which begin with the salutation "O": "O Wisdom", "O Adonai", etc). The treatment of the text, as ever with Pärt, is far removed from slavish word painting. Instead, he prefers to impart a music character to each section of the work by means of his unique treatment of tonal contrast and dissonance, and his consummate handling of choral texture.