Boomkat Product Review:
Collecting six beautiful Arvo Pärt compositions performed by the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir and Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, covering a breadth of styles over 25 years between 1989-2005
“The eagerly-awaited new Pärt: Released 25 years after the Estonian composer started ECM’s New Series (“Tabula Rasa”, 1984), “In Principio” offers six compositions of different scale and instrumentation written between 1989 and 2005 thus allowing for an impressive overview of Pärt’s recent stylistic development.
The dramatic 25-minute “In principio” for mixed choir and large orchestra sets the famous opening of the gospel of St. John, “In principio erat Verbum”. In its five movements, “tintinnabuli”-diatonicism is contrasted with sophisticated harmonic procedures, massive brass chords are juxtaposed with almost stoic calm in the choir.
With most of Pärt’s more recent works, the score (2003) was written in response to a major commission.
The purely orchestral “La Sindone” (The holy shroud), mirroring the textile’s symbolic shine-through effects in delicate string-textures, was premièred in Turin during the 2006 Winter Olympics whereas “Caecilia, vergine romana” for mixed choir and orchestra is a commission from the organisation for the celebration of the jubilee of Rome in 2000.
“Da pacem Domine”, one of Pärt’s most serenely beautiful pieces responded in a very subtle way to the 2004 terror attacks in Madrid’s Atocha station. The piece which could be heard a cappella on the 2005- release “Lamentate” appears here in a striking new version with choir and strings.
The programme is completed by two instrumental compositions, “Mein Weg” (1989 / 1999 / 2000) and “Für Lennart in memoriam” a very still piece for the late Estonian president Lennart Georg Meri.
The exemplary interpretations by some of the best and most faithful Pärt specialists were recorded in Estonia with the assistance of the composer and will surely make for one of the strongest 2009 releases on ECM.”