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Best of 2024
File under: Contemporary
Best of 2024

Arvo Part


Label: ECM Records, ECM New Series

Format: CD

Genre: Compositional

In stock


Tractus emphasizes Arvo Pärt compositions that blend the timbres of choir and string orchestra. New versions predominate, with focused performances from the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra and the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir under Tõnu Kaljuste’s direction that invite alert and concentrated listening. From the opening composition Littlemore Tractus, which takes as its starting point consoling reflections from a sermon by John Henry Newman, the idea of change, transfiguration and renewal resonates, setting a tone for a recording whose character is one of summing up, looking inward, and reconciling with the past. Compositions included are Littlemore Tractus, Greater Antiphons, Cantique des degrés, Sequentia, L’abbé Agathon, These Words… and Veni creator. An evocative reworking of Vater unser for choir, strings and piano concludes this album.

Recorded in Tallinn last year and produced by Manfred Eicher, Tractus extends the line of definitive Arvo Pärt albums begun on ECM New Series with the epochal Tabula rasa in 1984.

File under: Contemporary
Cat. number: ECM 1275
Year: 2024
1: Littlemore Tractus for mixed choir and orchestra (2000/2022) 2 – 8: Greater Antiphons I – VII for string ochestra(1988/2015) 9: Cantique des degrés for mixed choir and orchestra (1999/2002) 10: Sequentia for string orchestra and percussion (2014/2015) 11: L'abbé Agathon for soprano and string orchestra (2004/2008) 12: These Words ... for string orchestra and percussion (2008) 13: Veni creator for mixed choir and orchestra (2006/2009) 14: Vater unser for mixed choir, piano and string orchestra (2005/2019) Greater Antiphons: Magnificat-Antiphons, from the Roman Catholic Advent Liturgy Cantique des degrés: Psalm 121 (120) L'abbé Agathon / The Abbot Agathon: From the "Sayings of the Desert Fathers" (ca. 4th century) Veni creator / Come, o creator: From the liturgical hymn "Veni, creator spiritus" Vater unser / Our father: The Lord's Prayer, Matthew 6:9–13 Recorded September 2022 Methodist Church, Tallinn An ECM Production ℗ © 2023 ECM Records GmbH, München [on slipcase back] ℗ © 2023 ECM Records GmbH [in booklet] ℗ 2023 ECM Records GmbH [on disc] Printed in Germany
Superb and as well matched to Pärt's music as it could possibly be. | Read more

With the occasional exception of John Williams, Arvo Pärt is the most-performed composer of our time, and certain of his works have emerged as favorites performed even in obscure corners of the orchestral and choral worlds. This release, which made classical best-seller lists in the autumn of 2023, might be overlooked by Pärt listeners, for it contains no Fratres, Spiegel im Spiegel, or Magnificat. The works on the program are all less often performed, yet this may be precisely its appeal. All the music here exemplifies Pärt's creativity perfectly, and hearing traits of his music anew in less familiar pieces brings them into fresh relief, so to speak. One of these traits is the fact that Pärt is often writing sacred music whether it is in a choral or instrumental guise. Among the finds here is the set of eight Greater Antiphons, instrumental despite titles taken from sacred texts (and the antiphon texts are even given in the booklet). These receive a marvelous performance from perhaps Pärt's primary champions, the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra and conductor Tõnu Kõrvits, with a metallic string edge that brings out the resonance effects so basic to Pärt's music. Another Pärt trait heard afresh here is the way his music, just as it hangs between instrumental and vocal, draws on both static and narrative elements. He introduces a solo voice only once, in the parable-like L'abbé Agathon (beautifully sung by Maria Listra with the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir), but even this work does not depart from his basic meditative language. This release has all the virtues that have made people love Arvo Pärt, even as it defamiliarizes them a bit, and it can be recommended to both longtime Pärt fans and to newcomers. ECM's sound from the Methodist church in Tallinn, it almost goes without saying, is superb and as well matched to Pärt's music as it could possibly be.