The Hilliard Ensemble / Dennis Russell Davies / Beethoven Orchester Bonn / Paul Hillier / Arvo Pärt

Pärt: Miserere

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This recording shows a different side of Arvo Pärt's compositional work. The title composition has unusual instrumentation: winds and brass, choir and soloists, electric guitar, and bass guitar. The lyrics come slowly, one word per bar at a near pppp volume level. The text comes from Psalm 51, David's "Have Mercy on Me" psalm, before bursting like an apocalyptic fire into the classic "Dies Irae," a tremendous assault of holy terror best listened to in the dark by the fireplace. "Festina Lente" is a shorter work for strings and harp -- short, brisk, and entertaining, developed from a single melody. "When Sarah Was Ninety Years Old" is among the last of his "minimal" works prior to his development of his tintinnabuli style. A longer work complete with voices, organ, and percussion, it is nonetheless a programmatic work despite the lack of an actual sung text. This collection offers some of the diversity of Pärt's work on a single record.

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