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 Pärt’s most recent a cappella choral work.
The Stabat Mater is one of Pärt’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.
Total time: 01:14:55
Meitner DSD AD/DA
|Original Recording Format|
Robina G. Young
|Recording Type & Bit Rate||
|Release Date||May 2, 2014|
The 100 Best Albums of 2012: Honorable Mention
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.
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.
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.
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
calming and compelling…
Sparseness suggests the vastness of time and space amid flickering candles and whiffs of bitter incense.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
Minimally inclined though Pärt may be, this collection ensures maximum, ecstatic effect. Album of the week
The Buffalo News
A gorgeous new disc… The sound of the uppermost voice in Hillier’s choirs is somewhere between celestial and astounding.
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.
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.
Yet another brilliant Arvo Pärt programme from Paul Hillier and Theatre of Voices…
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