Marshalling orchestral and choral forces under the direction of Tonu Kaljuste, this new Arvo Pärt album, produced by Manfred Eicher and realized, like all Pärt's ECM discs, with the composer's participation, is a major event. Sacred music predominates, by turns monumentally powerful and tenderly fragile. Adam's Lament is the main work, but all eight pieces are either premiere recordings or first recordings of new versions reworked by the composer.
The other compositions are: Beatus Petronius for two choirs, eight woodwind instruments, tubular bells and strings; Salve Regina for choir, celesta and string orchestra; Statuit ei Dominus for two choirs, woodwinds and strings; Alleluia-Tropus for choir and string orchestra; L'Abbé Agathon for soprano, baritone, female choir and string orchestra. The album concludes with two beautiful lullabies - Estonian Lullaby and Christmas Lullaby - for female choir and string orchestra.
The title piece (commissioned by the cultural capital cities Istanbul and Tallin in 2010 and 2011) uses a poetic text by Silouan of Athos to emphasize our common heritage in the figure of Adam. When setting Adam's Lament which, for Pärt, has great poetic, expressive power with its central message of love and humility, the composer internalised Silouan's words completely; they determined the substance and structure of the text (sung in ecclesial Slavic), its punctuation, number of syllables and accentuation of the music down to the smallest detail. "That perfect melding caused me somehow to think less of a work of art when I was composing."
Tonu Kaluste is one of the outstanding interpreters of his countryman's music. No other conductor has his gift for allowing Pärt's works to breathe so freely in the choirs and orchestras he leads. He has already recorded many of Pärt's pieces for ECM with the two ensembles he founded, the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir and the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra. Other important interpreters of Pärt here include the Riga Sinfonietta, the Latvian Radio Choir, and Vox Clamantis, with its wide repertoire, from medieval to modern.
Personnel: Latvian Radio Choir, Vox Clamantis, Riga Sinfonietta, Tui Hirv (soprano), Rainer Vilu (baritone), Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, Tonu Kaljuste (conductor)
'Ravishing performances...the Latvian Radio Choir and Vox Clamantis affectingly convey anguished hopes for redemption while maintaining a pure, beautifully-balanced sound.' -- BBC Music Magazine (Recording of the Month), (Barry Witherden) * * * * *
'Moving and profound...there are no finer exponents of the composer's work than these performers under conductor Kaljuste; it's simply stunning.' -- Choir & Organ, (Shirley Ratcliffe) * * * * *
'It's as sublime and timeless as any of this composer's music, a style illuminated in all these performances by a combination of Latvian and Estonian choirs and chamber orchestras under Tönu Kaljuste.' -- The Scotsman, (Ken Walton) * * * *
'The foremost religious composer of his era...it's an absorbing, meditative piece.' -- The Independent, (Andy Gill) * * * *
'The mix of Orthodox-style chant, ethereal string writing and block-like vocal writing amalgamates Part's most familiar styles, but the whole has more contrast and colour than usual. In this world premiere recording, the Latvian Radio Choir, Vox Clamantis and Sinfonietta Riga perform with admirable commitment.' -- The Observer, (Fiona Maddocks)
'Part's standing as one of the most important choral composers of his generation is surely confirmed on this highly impressive recording...there's a real sense of drive and momentum to Part's recent music.' -- Gramophone, (Pwyll ap Sion)
'A profound, soul-stirring work, on the strength of Adam's Lament alone this is an outstanding disc.'
--International Record Review, (Peter Quinn)