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.
A new release from Polyphony, with Stephen Layton at the helm, always brings with it an assurance of singing of the highest possible calibre. Bring together a choir of such quality and the composer responsible for some of the most beautiful, transcendent music ever written, and the resultant disc is surely what must be one of, if not the most spectacular releases of the year. New works from Arvo Pärt are invariably cherished, and this disc contains no fewer than five world premiere recordings—Dopo la vittoria, Nunc dimittis, Littlemore Tractus, My heart's in the Highlands and Salve regina. It was recorded in the presence of the enraptured composer earlier this year at the Temple Church, London. This is a disc of achingly lovely music at its most mesmeric—prepare to be stunned.
At a mere five minutes, Arvo Pärt's Summa is actually the shortest composition on this CD. But, for its sheer, austere beauty, the work makes a fitting introduction to this orchestral disc. Pärt's trademark "tintinnabulation" style is in full effect on this sublime recording. Each of these works sounds simple and minimalist, yet also achingly profound. In Pärt's Symphony No. 3 (the earliest piece here, dating from 1971), the roots of his groundbreaking technique are just beginning to take shape: the ringing of bells, the calculated tension, and the hints of early music all add to the three-movement work's drama.
As the title and subtitle imply, this is a kind of greatest-hits album, with music selected by ECM label producer Manfred Eicher from the 12 albums on the label devoted to the music of Arvo Pärt. Pärt's music is so malleable that people tend to make their own versions of it rather than collect it, but if you wanted an anthology as a starter box, this would be the one to choose. Eicher has worked closely with Pärt since the 1980s, and he has indeed made a sensible "sequence" out of works that do not have a lot of contrast among them.
On this latest BR-KLASSIK recording of sacred music by Estonian composer Arvo Pärt (b. 1935), the regularly award-winning Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks, conducted by Peter Dijkstra, is joined by the Münchner Rundfunkorchester, a frequent occurrence in their concert series that regularly include sacred music from the 19th through the 21st c. The present three compositions were written in 1984 and 1990 in the composer's own tintinnabulation style of composition (from the Latin word for the 'ringing of bells'). In his Te Deum, Pärt makes a conscious departure from the traditionally powerful and festive sound of such precursors as Charpentier, Bruckner and Verdi. The restraint of the Wallfahrtslied (Pilgrims' Song), a setting of Psalm 121, evokes the ancient Judeo-Christian tradition of psalm recitation. The Berliner Messe (Berlin Mass) is so named because it was first performed in the city's St. Hedwig's Cathedral (1990) to mark the German Katholikentag (Catholics Day).
With Litany, Estonian composer Arvo Pärt created one of his most stirring works: a nearly 23-minute-long composition for orchestra and vocal ensemble based on the 24 prayers of St. John Chrysostom (one for each hour of the day). Commissioned for the 25th Oregon Bach Festival, the composition is both memorable and timeless. It finds influences in everything from chant to the repetition of modern minimalism. Play it loudly and the striking vocals of the Hilliard Ensemble simply soar against the strings of the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra. The orchestral Trisagion harkens toward Litany's mood swings and impact, but–sans voice–lacks the mysticism. One of Pärt's best, and as sacred as modern compositions come.
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.
A much-admired contemporary, living composer whose popularity among a wide cross-section of music devotees and casual listeners transcends genre barriers. This new double-disc set of the complete piano music encompasses works composed over a 50 year span. Jeroen Van Veen is a preeminent and critically-favored Minimalist advocate and multi-dimensional artist with a noteworthy backlist of Brilliant Classic releases to his credit with more to come. Booklet notes written by Jeroen Van Veen.