333

Los Angeles Philharmonic, Esa-Pekka Salonen; Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, Tonu Kalijuste: Arvo Part: Symphony No. 4

C. Michael Bailey By

Sign in to view read count
It is entirely too easy to look at the past and wonder where the greatness is today. In 1734 George Frideric Handel was composing operas at London's Covent Garden. Domenico Scarlatti was in Madrid, serving as music master to Princess Maria Barbara, for whom he composed many of his 555 keyboard sonatas. Johann Sebastian Bach was toiling away in Leipzig as Cantor at Thomasschule and Kapellmeister at Thomaskirche, composing his Mass in B minor. Does musical firepower like this exist in the post-modern 21st Century?

Well, in a word, Yes.

Quietly, and sometimes not so quietly Estonian composer Arvo Pärt has been writing compelling sacred and symphonic music for the past 50 years. In 1984, Pärt found a friend and advocate in ECM Records' Manfred Eicher, who, after founding his label in 1969, devoted to improvisational music only, expanded the label with the New Series imprint specifically for Pärt's Tabula Rasa. Since then Eicher has provided Pärt a secure home populated with superb musicians to interpret his music.

Perhaps the leading choral composer, Pärt has also composed much notable orchestral music. He has not provided a symphony since his Symphony No. 3, published in 1971. The Symphony No. 4, subtitled "Los Angeles," is the first orchestral offering from Pärt released on ECM, performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic under the directions of Esa-Pekka Salonen. Where Pärt's first three symphonies were scored for full orchestra, Symphony No. 4 was written for string orchestra, harp and percussion. It was originally commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association and the Canberra International Music Festival. Pärt completed the piece in 2008 and it received its premiere on January 10 2009 in Los Angeles, at Walt Disney Concert Hall, conducted by Salonen.

The symphony is performed in three slow movements: Con sublimita, Affannoso, Deciso. Pärt favors dramatic, high-register strings, preparing a smooth and gliding terra musica. The composer, always enamored of small percussion, augments the strings with strategically placed timpani, marimba, crotales, chimes, triangle, cymbals, tam-tam and bass drum. All are integral in Pärt's masterful development, which carries through cumulatively through the three movements. It is an icy warmth that envelopes the symphony, one that is a paradox only Pärt can compose.

Filling out the program is a 1997 performance of fragments from Kanon Pokajanen, which Pärt had composed for four-part (SATB) choir. The book is the "Canon of Repentance to Our Lord Jesus Christ," an Orthodox hymn written composed originally in Greek by St. Andrew of Crete in the eighth century, and translated into Slavonic the next. The text is sung in Church Slavonic, a cappella. This recording serves as a superb introduction to Pärt for the uninitiated.

Track Listing: Symphony No. 4; Fragments from Kanon Pokajanen.

Personnel: Los Angeles Philharmonic, Esa-Pekka Salonen (Symphony No. 4); Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, Tonu Kaljuste (Kanon Pokajanen)

Title: Arvo Part: Symphony No. 4 | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: ECM Records


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Alto Gusto CD/LP/Track Review Alto Gusto
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 20, 2017
Read Flow CD/LP/Track Review Flow
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: November 20, 2017
Read Originals For the Originals CD/LP/Track Review Originals For the Originals
by Paul Rauch
Published: November 20, 2017
Read Killing Bugs CD/LP/Track Review Killing Bugs
by Kevin Press
Published: November 20, 2017
Read The Way of It CD/LP/Track Review The Way of It
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 19, 2017
Read Tag Book CD/LP/Track Review Tag Book
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: November 19, 2017
Read "Tetrawind" CD/LP/Track Review Tetrawind
by Geannine Reid
Published: July 24, 2017
Read "3's a Crowd" CD/LP/Track Review 3's a Crowd
by Troy Dostert
Published: April 21, 2017
Read "On Hollywood Boulevard" CD/LP/Track Review On Hollywood Boulevard
by Budd Kopman
Published: February 19, 2017
Read "Follow Your Heart" CD/LP/Track Review Follow Your Heart
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 25, 2017
Read "Is It Me...?" CD/LP/Track Review Is It Me...?
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 7, 2017
Read "2nd Thoughts" CD/LP/Track Review 2nd Thoughts
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 8, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.

Please support out sponsor