Tõnu Kaljuste / Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir / Latvian Radio Choir / Sinfonietta Riga

Arvo Pärt: Adam's Lament

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Minimalist composers both Western and Eastern, and both Holy and Secular, have moderated the radical simplicity of their music, both drawing on functional harmony and creating dramatic structures of their own devising. This beautifully recorded album collects music by Arvo Pärt, most of it composed (or at least revised) since the turn of the century. Performed by a superb group of Baltic musicians, the album makes a fine choice for those wishing to explore new directions in Pärt's music. The title work, composed in 2009, is in response to a joint commission from the cities of Tallinn and Istanbul. Based on texts by a contemporary Orthodox saint, Silouan of Mount Athos in Greece (the texts are not included), it takes Adam's banishment from paradise as its theme. Like several other works on the album, it uses elements of Orthodox chant, mixing it with high string sounds and choral homophony. Some of the shorter works on the album are closer to Pärt's classic style, but none (not even Beatus Petronius, track 2, which includes a set of tubular bells in the orchestra) really makes use of Pärt's trademark tintinnabulation bell effect. He has not moved into dramatic music in the way that, say, Philip Glass has, but dialogue among discrete groups plays a greater role in this music than it did in his earlier works. The variety is all to the good, and the two small, absolutely limpid lullabies that close the program are quite memorable. The album was assembled from recordings made in several different places, by several different groups: the Latvian Radio Choir, Vox Clamantis, and the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, with Estonian and Latvian orchestras. But Tõnu Kaljuste serves as conductor throughout, and each sound environment reflects the music heard; there is no sense of an anthology. Strongly recommended for Pärt fans.

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