Arvo PÄRT (b. 1935)
1 Sumfoonia [18.39]
Stabat Mater [29.19]
Statuit Ei Dominus [5.03]
Missa Syllabica [16.06]
Beatus Petronius [5.02]
7 Magnificat Antiphons [13.28]
De profundis [5.33]
Cantate Domino [2.39]
Solfeggio [4.04]Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra/Paavo Järvi; Estonian National Symphony Orchestra/ Paavo Järvi; Taverner Consort and Fretwork/Andrew Parrott; Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir/Tonu Kaljuste; Christopher Bowers-Broadbent, Ene Salumae (organ)
rec. 6-11 June 1996, Konserthuset, Stockholm (Nekrolog and First Symphony), May 1996, St Bartholomew’s Church, Orford, Suffolk (Stabat Mater), 8 May and 16, 18-19 September 1996, All Hallow’s Church, Gospel Oak, London (CD2). DDD
EMI CLASSICS 2376112 [61.07 + 61.00]
This two-disc set presents a range of Arvo Pärt’s work, from the more astringent First Symphony, to the luminous sounds of his later choral works.
The first two works on the first disc, with Paavo Järvi conducting the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, are from Part’s ‘first period’, during which he embraced the dodecaphonic compositional techniques of the Second Viennese School. In the opening Nekrolog we find an excellent sense of ensemble, and full advantage is taken of the varying sonorities of the scoring - an important factor, as the instrumentation is designed in such a way to emphasise the three-dimensionality of the texture. The rhythms are suitably incisive, and we find well-judged lyricism in strings and solo oboe – the latter is especially fine. In the more strenuous passages, the sound is strident and dramatic without ever straying over the line into harshness. In the ensuing, interesting and powerful, First Symphony, control of intonation is excellent, especially in the beautifully unified brass. The phrases are well-shaped, and there is good control of the very long melodic lines. The outstanding Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra also brings an impressive range of dynamics to the work.
The final work on the first disc, the Stabat Mater is, as are all the works on the following disc, from a later period, when Part had re-emerged with his own compositional ‘voice’. The Stabat Mater is performed by the Taverner Consort and Fretwork under Andrew Parrott, and opens with an extended passage for viols which, in its harmonic language and melodic characteristics, admirably prepares for the sung text. Repeated rhythmic ‘cells’ are employed to induce a meditative atmosphere, and the rhythmic stress-patterns inherent result in an entirely unstrained setting of the text. The Taverner Consort’s performance, however is not entirely flawless - the “bulging” of the voices on longer notes begins to irritate after a while, and some of the top notes seem to be a bit of a struggle, as well.
The second disc contains a number of works which will be familiar and much-loved by appreciators of the music of Arvo Pärt, such as the 7 Magnificat Antiphons and De profundis. They are performed by the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir and the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Tonu Kaljuste, with Christopher Bowers-Broadbent and Ene Salumae at the organ. The disc opens with Statuit Ei Dominus, a dramatic work with well-managed contrasts of texture and dynamic. More spatial separation in the recording would perhaps have enhanced the three-dimensional effect, as the texture is closely written (especially when the full choirs and organs are used). Some of the declamation in the ensuing Missa Syllabica is rather matter-of-fact: more intensity of pronunciation would complement the text and the setting better, yet the other works are all very well performed – with effective range of dynamics and suitably dramatic touches, for example, in the 7 Magnificat Antiphons.
On the whole, this is a desirable set, although it should be noted that the booklet notes are very sparse indeed, containing minimal information on the composer and the works featured, and no information on the performers at all.
On the whole a desirable set.