Kristjan Järvi

Arvo Pärt: Cantique

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This disc features three works for large forces by Arvo Pärt, including two world-premiere recordings, his Stabat Mater for choir and string orchestra and Cantique des degrés for choir and orchestra. Of the works written before he developed the style often referred to as holy minimalism, but that he describes as his tintinnabuli style, his Symphony No. 3 (1971) is one of the few to have achieved wide popularity. It is a transitional work, but it is by far closer to the simplicity of his later works than to the serialism and aleatory practice of his earlier ones. The three-movement symphony is entirely tonal, with the "white note" sound of Pärt's later style, music that is often stripped to monophonic or leanly polyphonic textures. It's a piece whose directness and sweetness of tone should make it appealing to fans of Pärt's more characteristic pieces. The largest work here, the Stabat Mater, is a 2002 revision of a 1985 setting of the text for soloists and string trio. Filled out here with large choral and orchestral forces, it has even more gravity and resonance. Cantique des degrés was written to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Prince Rainer's accession to the throne of Monaco. It's a lovely piece, melodically and harmonically ingratiating with enough unexpected orchestral quirks to keep it from sounding conventional. Kristjan Järvi, who has known Pärt since his childhood and who is the son of conductor Neeme Järvi (to whom the Third Symphony is dedicated), leads Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin and RIAS Kammerchor in rapt, luminous performances. Sony’s sound is warm and generally good in the symphony, but in the Stabat Mater, it tends to be murky, so that the texts are sometimes all but unintelligible.

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