Arvo reaches the parts other composers can't | Festivals |

Arvo reaches the parts other composers can't

The Irish Independent – Pat O'Kelly – This year's RTE Living Music Festival devoted itself, in the main, to a retrospective of Estonian-born composer Arvo Part.

The festival's artistic director, composer James MacMillan, points out that "Part reaches out to touch the hearts of music-lovers, regardless of their own beliefs".

Whatever one feels about Part's music, and some of it is frankly monotonous, one must respect his intentions. A case in point is 'Passio' (1982) heard in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin.

Under Sarah Tenant-Flowers' direction, the opposing figures of Robert MacDonald's dry bass Christus and Steven Harold's bland tenor Pilate are supported by the unwavering fidelity of the Hilliard Ensemble's multi-voiced Evangelist and the National Chamber Choir's Crowd.

At the National Concert Hall, Part's lengthy 'Lamentate' — RTE NSO/ Tonu Kaljuste with pianist Joanna MacGregor — while sparse can also summon a frightening behemoth from its depths.

'Credo' of 1968, with the RTE Philharmonic Choir and NSO superbly controlled by Maestro Kaljuste, proves a solid affirmation of faith even if enshrining chaotic shouts of despondent doubt. The RTECO's festival contribution under David Brophy finds Part's indebtedness to the baroque. And 'Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten' encapsulates his love of the medieval.

Austerity and fervour endears his music to an adoring public. I still await conversion.