This fourth volume in the Kristjan Järvi Sound Project series is a tribute to his close friend and countryman composer Arvo Pärt, one of the most emblematic figures in contemporary music, to mark the celebration of his 80th birthday. Constantly inspired by pioneering, thrilling and exhilarating ideas, American-Estonian conductor Kristjan Järvi has gathered works spanning 40 years of Pärt’s compositions, as a culmination of of years of collaboration, musical exploration and spiritual connection.
Marshalling orchestral and choral forces under the direction of Tonu Kaljuste, this new Arvo Part album, produced by Manfred Eicher and realized, like all Part’s ECM discs, with the composer’s participation, is a major event. Sacred music predominates, by turns monumentally powerful and tenderly fragile.
To celebrate Arvo Part's 80th birthday, Gimell presents a new recording of some of the Estonian composer's finest a cappella choral works. This is the first album of contemporary music from The Tallis Scholars since their famous 1984 recording of works by John Tavener. The program here includes several major works including the Magnificat, Sieben Magnificat-Antiphonen, Triodion and I Am the True Vine. The album's title refers to the compositional style Part developed in the 1970s and now employs in most of his works. This simple style was influenced by the composer's mystical experiences with sacred chant. Tintinnabuli works often have a slow and meditative tempo and a minimalist approach to both notation and performance.
Stephen Layton and Polyphony have a long and fruitful relationship with the music of Arvo Pärt. Their recording of Triodion and other choral works (CDA67375) won a Gramophone Award and became a cult classic. The extraordinary purity of Polyphony’s singing is the perfect vehicle for music of such clean, elemental simplicity, such cathartic calm. This third Pärt album from Stephen Layton and Polyphony reaches right back, intriguingly, to the composer’s youthful modernist phase and spans nearly five decades—from 1963 to 2012—in the process. As with the album Triodion, it reflects an increasingly broad spread of languages and sources in Pärt’s chosen texts. Latin, German and English are joined here by Church Slavonic and Spanish. A range of biblical texts are set alongside ancient prayers.
Arvo Part's Kanon Pokajanen is a work of starkly radiant beauty, a deeply felt plea for forgiveness so resonant it seems to bear its own expiatory power. The piece is a choral setting of the Russian Orthodox Church's canon of repentance, believed to have been composed by St. Andrew of Crete sometime in the late seventh century. Part had experimented with the canon in earlier works, but when the Cologne Cathedral commissioned him to compose a choral piece for its 750th anniversary, he took the opportunity to immerse himself in it completely. Over two years of intense quality time with the work, Part produced an 80-minute choral setting of the entire canon that mines each word of the original Church Slavonic (a language used exclusively in ecclesiastical texts) for its maximum musicality and meaning.
The symphonies of Arvo Pärt will surprise anyone familiar with his contemplative, mature style. Pärt began life as a member of the Eastern European modern school, not so far removed from contemporaries such as Penderecki and Górecki. His three symphonies show his gradual renunciation of the more radical aspects of his musical syntax, a return to emotional directness, and the beginnings of that otherworldly quality that has become the outstanding feature of his later work. Not all listeners have traveled the path with him, some finding his recent music tedious and pretentious rather than spiritual, and these three relatively early symphonies really do add a welcome depth and roundness of profile to a composer who can all too easily seem one-dimensional. It's important to keep in mind that, unlike so many members of today's pseudospiritual school of composers (England's John Tavener being the prime example), Pärt is a real composer operating even in the most mystical musings. Järvi deserves real credit for calling attention to this fact in such a powerful way.
The music of Arvo Part is one of the great consolations of our age. Often described as out of step with the times, his choral compositions display continuity with the great liturgical music of the 16th Century and earlier. Richly-textured, driven by what seems to be an unshakeable faith and commitment, his church music is certainly composed from an ethical standpoint which few these days can share. Yet he is unmistakably of our time, and that is what makes him so wonderful. From the first notes of this wonderful Mass, we are aware that Part is a contemporary, a sufferer, the great soul we never expected to meet.
Paul Hillier, best known for his recordings of early music, brings that sense of urgency and simple piety to the delicate religious music of Arvo Part. This is music which combines gentleness with real force, and the intelligent singing, and capacity to make moments of silence tell as much as grand effects, is entirely admirable.
Marshalling orchestral and choral forces under the direction of Tõnu Kaljuste, this new Arvo Pärt album, produced by Manfred Eicher and realized, like all Pärt’s ECM discs, with the composer’s participation, is a major event. Sacred music predominates, by turns monumentally powerful and tenderly fragile.