Arvo Pärt: Music for Unaccompanied Choir

Arvo Pärt: Music for Unaccompanied Choir

by Elora Festival Singers
     
 

As the unaccompanied choral music of Estonian-born "holy minimalist" Arvo Pärt becomes more and more popular, listeners will encounter recordings of it made by groups beyond the orbit of the highly trained, mostly European choirs that have championed the composer thus far. It's worth asking how this will affect the reception of the composer's music. Will the… See more details below

Overview

As the unaccompanied choral music of Estonian-born "holy minimalist" Arvo Pärt becomes more and more popular, listeners will encounter recordings of it made by groups beyond the orbit of the highly trained, mostly European choirs that have championed the composer thus far. It's worth asking how this will affect the reception of the composer's music. Will the transparent textures reveal small flaws in a choir's blend? Does Pärt's music depend on a choir that can realize the subtle bell-like effects contained within his language of pure and altered triads? The coming decades will answer these questions. A transitional stage of the process is offered on this disc by Canada's Elora Festival Singers, a fine but not virtuoso chorus of 22 that is associated with summer music festival in Ontario. They make things a bit easier on themselves by focusing on Pärt's music from the 1990s onward, which is a bit less concerned with sonority and a bit more with text-setting and with contrasts between chordal and declamatory passages; in the helpful words of annotator Richard Whitehouse, the two textures are "integrated with the unassuming skill that is a hallmark of Pärt's most recent music for unaccompanied choir." The polyglot Pärt here sets texts in English, Latin, Russian, and Italian (all those not in English are translated into English in the booklet), but no matter what the language he favors either prayers or prose passages from the Bible that featured dialogue and a progression toward a specific religious lesson that he can bring out in a very basic way using his stripped-down language. Hear the settings of the gospel texts "I Am the True Vine," track 7, or "The Woman with the Alabaster Box," track 8, for good examples of Pärt's recent style and of the Elora Festival Singers' treatment of it. The choir articulates well, expresses the sense of the text, and is accurate intonationally. In the opening work on the disc, the "Triodion" (1998), the singers connect precisely on the offbeat rhythms down to which Pärt lets the music boil at the prayer that concludes each of three "odes": "O Most Holy Birth-giver of God, save us...." In the few works on the album where Pärt does rely heavily on vertical sonorities, the choir is generally effective, but when the writing climbs to quiet high notes for the sopranos one wishes for more purity. There's much to recommend this album, for Anglophones not least the fact that it collects a good deal of Pärt's English-language music in one place, and in general it bodes well for the continued diffusion of Pärt's works throughout our musical culture.

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Product Details

Release Date:
09/26/2006
Label:
Naxos
UPC:
0747313023974
catalogNumber:
8570239
Rank:
372807

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Triodion, for chorus  - Arvo Pärt  - Noel Edison  -  Elora Festival Singers  - Gedeon Peteri
  2. Tribute to Caesar, for chorus  - Arvo Pärt  - Noel Edison  -  Elora Festival Singers  - Gedeon Peteri
  3. Nunc dimittis, for chorus  - Arvo Pärt  - Noel Edison  -  Elora Festival Singers  - Gedeon Peteri
  4. Kanon Pokajanen, (9 odes, Kontakion-Ikos & Prayer) for chorus: Ode 7 (Memento)  - Arvo Pärt  - Noel Edison  -  Elora Festival Singers  - Gedeon Peteri
  5. I Am the True Vine, for chorus  - Arvo Pärt  - Noel Edison  -  Elora Festival Singers  - Gedeon Peteri
  6. The Woman with the Alabaster Box, for chorus  - Arvo Pärt  - Noel Edison  -  Elora Festival Singers  - Gedeon Peteri
  7. Dopo la vittoria, little cantata for chorus  - Arvo Pärt  - Noel Edison  -  Elora Festival Singers  - Gedeon Peteri
  8. Bogoróditse dyévo (Hail Mary), for chorus  - Arvo Pärt  - Noel Edison  -  Elora Festival Singers  - Gedeon Peteri

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