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 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.
Te Deum is a setting of the Latin Te Deum text, also known as the Ambrosian Hymn attributed to Saints Ambrose, Augustine, and Hilary, by Estonian-born composer Arvo Part commissioned by the Westdeutscher Rundfunk Radio in Cologne, Germany in 1984. Dedicated to the late Alfred Schlee of Universal Edition, the WDR Broadcast Choir premiered the Te Deum under the direction of conductor Dennis Russell Davies on January 19, 1985. The Te Deum plays an important role in the services of many Christian denominations, including the Paraklesis (Moleben) of Thanksgiving in the Eastern Orthodox Church. Because of the unusual instrumentation Part employs, his Te Deum is not suited for use within the Orthodox Church.
Arvo Part is a living national treasure to Estonia, and this album reveals such intimate access to his faith, sadness, and humility. Structured in five parts, Alina is a simple, chilling invocation of heartfelt desire comprised of only two movements that alternate with subtle variation. The opening lullaby of "Spiegel im Spiegel" is a gentle and melancholy embrace between Sergej Bezrodny on piano and Vladimir Spivakov on violin, where every note steps gracefully forward, as if ascending a fragile staircase.
Pärt's 1987 release, Arbos, shows the composer working within his medium, bringing forth a body of music sacred in sound and message and presenting new compositional techniques. Utilizing a limited palette of tones, arranged in repeating patterns, these works are often (understandably) categorized with the works of Glass, Reich, and Riley. The tonal palette is often borrowed from European medieval styles, and this, in conjunction with the liturgical subject matter, make these new compositions feel centuries old.