Arvo Pärt - Creator Spiritus (2012)


Theatre of Voices - Ars Nova Copenhagen

Paul Hillier

This recording focuses on Pärt as a composer of chamber music, if we include in that category a few pieces for chamber choir. Although the music is drawn from different periods in the composer’s career, there is nonetheless a concentration of relatively new pieces, so that this CD also constitutes a brief survey of Pa?rt’s most recent a cappella choral work.

The Stabat Mater is one of Paärt’s chief works (in any genre) and would be more often performed if it did not call for the rather unusual mixture of three singers and string trio – unusual not in the musical sense so much as the logistic! This work was in fact the starting point of a concert program that led us in turn to this recording, and explains the presence of other works for string quartet, alone or with voices. From my work in Estonia I knew the excellence of the NyyD players and their special understanding of Pärt’s music – that it requires both intense feeling under a surface of stillness and the ability to emerge suddenly into almost violent declamation. Together with my Theatre of Voices we put together a recital of Pärt and early music. Meanwhile, with Ars Nova Copenhagen, I continued to perform a wide range of Pärt’s music, from the Passio, Te Deum, and Miserere, through to the new items presented here. The timbres of strings and of voices remain for me a core element of Pärt’s music – because each can be so perfectly blended into a single sonority – and this has encouraged the juxtaposition of the liturgical atmosphere of his choral writing with the quasi-secular colour of the string quartet. In this world an organ even becomes a domestic instrument accompanying a ballad by Robert Burns.

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Paul Hillier

His musical interests range from medieval to contemporary music and include singing, conducting, and writing. In 1990, after many years as Music Director of the Hilliard Ensemble, he founded the Theatre of Voices and began his series of acclaimed recordings for harmonia mundi usa. From 1996 to 2003, Hillier was Director

of the Early Music Institute at Indiana University, Bloomington. In September, 2001 he was named Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, with which he launched
a cycle of recordings exploring the choral tradition of the Baltic Sea countries. Baltic Voices 1 and Baltic Voices 2 met with unanimous praise and each won Hillier a Grammy® nomination.The Powers of Heaven, a much-admired pro- gram of Russian Orthodox sacred music, was followed by Rachmaninov’s All-Night Vigil, Op. 37 and, most recently, by Baltic Voices 3. In 2004 Paul Hillier was awarded the Estonian Cultural Prize.

In 2002 he was made Honorary Professor in Music
at the University of Copenhagen, and in 2003 accepted the post of Chief Conductor of Vocal Group Ars Nova (Copenhagen). Hillier is the author of a monograph “Arvo Pa?rt” (1997) and editor of “The Collected Writings of Steve Reich” (2002), both published by Oxford University Press. His latest project is a book about consort singing.

Theatre of Voices - Ars Nova Copenhagen

The Grammy®-award winning ensemble THEATRE OF VOICES was founded by Paul Hillier in 1990. Current projects include music ranging from Dowland, Carissimi, Buxtehude and Bach, to many of today’s most eminent composers such as Arvo Pa?rt, Steve Reich, John Cage, Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen, and David Lang. The group regularly performs at Edinburgh Festival, Barbican Centre and Carnegie Hall – where they premiered David Lang’s “The Little Match Girl Passion.” The piece was commissioned for TOV and won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize. The harmonia mundi recording won a Grammy® Award in 2010. TOV’s 2007 recording of Stockhausen’s “Stimmung” led to the ensemble being invited to open the 2008 Berliner Festspiele at the composer’s request. Theatre of Voices works with some of the world’s best instrumentalists and has premiered Gavin Bryars’s “The Stone Arch” with the Kronos Quartet at Barbican Centre’s Steve Reich Festival. In 2009 the ensemble presented a new production by Chinese composer Liu Sola also at the Barbican Centre and Takkelloftet at the Royal Opera in Copenhagen: “The Afterlife of Li Jiantong.” Presently, Theatre of Voices is working with London Sinfonietta on a new round of music by Danish composer Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen. 

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Arvo Pärt - Creator Spiritus (2012)


Theatre of Voices - Ars Nova Copenhagen

    Ted Gioia

The 100 Best Albums of 2012: Honorable Mention

Ted Gioia

    Opera News

This recording showcases Paul Hillier’s chamber choir, Ars Nova Copenhagen, and vocal quintet, Theater of Voices, in reverent readings of Pärt’s vocal chamber music.

Joanne Sydney Lessner


the ethereal, almost unearthly quality of the performances here are entirely apropos to the music; moreover, the solo voices, especially that of soprano Else Torp, have exceptionally well-focused timbres that in turn focus the music like a laser beam.

Lynn Rene Bayley

    American Record Guide

Finding and magnifying the poignant variances Part injects into his repetitive minimalist style is incredibly hard to do, and no one does it better than Paul Hillier. Distinguished engineering and first-rate annotation from HM sweeten the pot further.


    Musical Toronto

Anyone can do a lot with a lot, but few are the people who manage to make something monumental and memorable from very little. Estonian composer Arvo Pärt, now 76, is one of those alchemists. "Small, repeated melodic figures and long, sliding dissonances have a hypnotic effect, especially when performed as beautifully and cleanly as at the hands of Hillier’s Theatre of Voices and Ars Nova Copenhagen." "This is music that speaks to today, yet somehow manages to also sound absolutely timeless." - John Terauds

John Terauds

    PS Tracks

calming and compelling...

Lawrence Schenbeck

    Shepherd Express

Sparseness suggests the vastness of time and space amid flickering candles and whiffs of bitter incense.

David Luhrssen

It is hard to imagine a better service to Pärt’s unique and important music than this disc. Hillier’s two groups are nothing short of fantastic. The team at harmonia mundi do a beautiful job in capturing the details of the performance space and balancing the singers and instrumentalists. The SACD surround sound is lush yet immediate, with a warm sheen to the higher frequencies. Fans of choral music and Pärt’s music in particular should not hesitate to add this to their collections. As long as recordings like this keep being produced, the “Classical Music” world will be in fine shape.

Matthew Richard Martinez

    Audiophile Audition -

There have been a lot, but this is one of the very best of the recent Pärt releases. Absolutely essential! HM’s typically high production values present throughout, and the sound is stunning.

Steven Ritter


Both vocal and instrumental forces are brought together in the bone-chilling, claustrophobic Ein Wallfahrtslied and the more expansive Stabat mater... Theatre of Voices have lived and breathed Part's music for over two decades but it is perhaps the warmth and beauty of the voices of Ars Nova Copenhagen that is most immediately striking...

Pwyll ap Sion


Choral master Paul Hillier knows the music of Arvo Part... Here, he offers an intimate collection of vocal and instrumental chamber pieces that range across the Estonian's career... This performance of the Stabat Mater is beautifully sung and recorded. 'My Heart Is in the Highlands' is one of Part's most perfect creations; sung here by soprano Else Torp, it will crush a sensitive soul.

Bradley Bambarger


The performances are beyond criticism. A Hillier choir, whether it’s Theatre of Voices, Ars Nova Copenhagen or the National Chamber Choir of Ireland, is a perfectly tuned, vocally homogenous and absolutely responsive choir... Outstanding in every way,Creator Spiritus is essential for both Pärt newcomers and veterans.

Craig Zeichner


Minimally inclined though Pärt may be, this collection ensures maximum, ecstatic effect. Album of the week

Olivia Giovetti

    The Buffalo News

A gorgeous new disc... The sound of the uppermost voice in Hillier’s choirs is somewhere between celestial and astounding.

Jeff Simon

    Classical Candor

This is sacred music for quiet contemplation, and as such I cannot imagine its being any better performed than here by Paul Hillier and his players.

John J. Puccio

    Sid Smith's Postcards From The Yellow Room

as this new collection shows, [Pärt's] music retains a special grace and ambiguity that somehow enables the sense of the sacred and the secular to emerge unscathed from such commercial applications. Thanks to the warmth and pin-sharp clarity of this SACD production one is enveloped by the rich intensity of Theatre Of Voices and Ars Nova Copenhagen, who between them serve Pärt’s yearning harmonies with a telling precision... as satisfying as it is profound.

Fiona Maddocks

    The Independent

Yet another brilliant Arvo Pärt programme from Paul Hillier and Theatre of Voices...

Andy Gill

Arvo Pärt - Creator Spiritus (2012)


Theatre of Voices - Ars Nova Copenhagen

Digital Converters: Meitner DSD AD/DA
Mastering Engineer: Brad Michel
Producer: Robina G. Young
Recording Engineer: Brad Michel
Recording location: Copenhagen, Denmark
Recording Software: Pyramix
Recording Type & Bit Rate: DSD64

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HMU907553: Arvo Pärt - Creator Spiritus
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Veni creator
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The Deer's Cry
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Most Holy Mother of God
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My heart's in the highlands
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Peace upon you, Jerusalem
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Ein Wallfahrtslied
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Morning Star
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Sabat Mater
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