"The impact is as satisfying as it is profound"

Arvo Pärt: Creator Spritus
Sid Smith, Sid Smith blog
Søndag, 1. april Read review on www

There surely can’t be too many people left on the face of the planet that haven’t encountered Arvo Pärt’s work cropping up as it does in numerous film and TV spots. He’s fast become the go-to composer when producers want to imbue a scene with a moment of spirituality or emotional poignancy. 

You’d think that kind of familiarity would breed if not contempt exactly, then a mounting indifference to the stark lines of his patented brand of tintinnabulation. Yet, as this new collection shows, his 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. 

Peace Upon You, Jerusalem has the majority of voices coalesce around a single chord gloriously sustained for nearly a full minute. Across this unwavering support, the remaining singers perform a series of simple yet devastatingly effective cadences whose impact is as satisfying as it is profound.

The combination of a single voice and Christopher Bowers-Broadbent’s delicately climbing organ on My Heart’s in the Highlands offers further reveries, and the same suspenseful mood occurs during Ein Wallfahrtslied though here augmented by the NYYD Quartet. Beginning with strings gradually layered into delicate folds of oblique harmony, violins drift lazily away, high above the darkening embers of descending cello.

Throughout the ten pieces there's an uncluttered fragility gently flickering like a candle flame caught between the winds of sound and silence. It’s this inexorable journey to stillness, and the stunning economy by which it gets there which makes Pärt’s music compelling, timeless and moving.