This disc presents works from between 1990 and 2001 by Arvo Pärt,
the Estonian composer who is mainly known for his sacred choral
works, with their unmistakable blend of early chant with modern
dissonances and Pärt’s signature tintinnabuli style.
Triodion, which opens the disc,
was composed in 1998, and was a commission from Lancing College
in Sussex to mark its 150th anniversary. Benjamin
Britten had been commissioned to write a work for the College’s
Centenary, and duly produced St Nicholas - St Nicholas
being Lancing’s patron saint. Pärt marks this by using a prayer
to St Nicholas in the last of the three Odes that, together
with an introduction and coda, form the piece. It is a very
simple and sombre work, and is given a suitably austere performance.
ensuing Tribute to Caesar was commissioned for the
350th anniversary of the Karlstad Dioclese in Sweden
and sets the text from St Matthew which describes the
confrontation between Jesus and the Pharisees: Jesus, when
the Pharisees identify Caesar’s head on a coin, tells them
to “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and
unto God the things that are God’s”.
Nunc Dimittis was commissioned by St Mary’s’ Episcopal
Church in Edinburgh and premiered at the Edinburgh Festival,
and is followed by the Ode VIII from Karon Pokajanen,
Pärt’s largest work after his St John Passion. The
Odes set the liturgical canon of repentance, and show the
influence of Russian Orthodox music, leading to a work of
great intensity and beauty, given a radiant performance.
Am the true Vine
was written for 900th anniversary of the founding
of Norwich in 1996, and the music reflects the growth and
changes that take place on the one vine in the text. The
Woman with the Alabaster Box follows. This, a Karlstad
commission again, dates from 1997, and treats verses in St
Matthew where Jesus rebukes his disciples for criticising
a woman who pours expensive unguents over his head.
commemorating the 1600th anniversary of the death
of St Ambrose, for Milan. Here, Pärt sets an Italian translation
of a Russian text that describes the baptism of St Augustine
by St Ambrose. The Bogoroditse Djevo concludes the
disc. This was composed for the Annual Nine Lessons and Carols
at King’s College, Cambridge, in 1992, and receives a rich,
sonorous and lively performance.
the performances on this disc are excellent - luminous and
intense, suiting the music perfectly. The choice of works
gives a good overview of Pärt’s compositions, and St John
Chrysostom Church in Ontario’s Newmarket has right degree
of resonance to draw out the floating vocal lines.