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Arvo Part: Symphony No. 4
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 12 September 2010
I first heard this piece at the Proms this year, a beautiful piece of programming, coming as it did straight after Mossolov's wildly insane Iron Foundry. I was stunned then by the Symphony No.4's beauty and so snapped up the recording when I saw it this week. I wasn't disappointed. This is just the sort of music we need now. Meditative, quiet, but intense beauty - a real balm for the soul. Try it. Ignore other reviewers who carp on about it's symphonic credentials, just let the work bypass your brain and go straight to the heart. Just as the composer intended I think. You won't regret it and the experience of sublime peace this composer imparts will become a "part" of you very quickly. Stunning performance of the Fragments of Kanon Pokajanen too by his long time collaborator Tonu Kaljuste. Strongly recommended.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 26 July 2011
No doubt, a great composition and haunting, great music. But when listening with headphones the many noises in the background are too many and that makes you hope for a better recording. This said by an ECM-fan.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Arvo Pärt's music is truly unique. Increasingly he has pared down his sound world beyond the minimalist (but then he has not gone in for the motoric rhythmic structure of, say Adams, Reich or Glass).

His music has been described as tintinnabulation, based, as the name suggests, on the ringing of bells (and the kind of musical changes evoked by bell-ringing. However, the sound-world he has created is subtle and often static.

The Symphony No.4 does not fit easily into the accepted idea of symphonic music, largely due to the calm, focussed nature of the piece, which bypasses symphonic argument in favour of a limited, if intense, musical progression through the slowest and subtlest of harmonic changes.

I heard this piece at its UK premiere at the Proms: Pärt managed the seemingly impossible feat of concentrating 6000 pairs of ears on his soft-voiced opus (does it rise above pianissimo? - It certainly didn't seem to) for over 35 minutes.

I suspect the symphony will gain greater credibility on disc, if only because such a solitary experience- Proms excepted- is hard to sustain in the concert hall. It seems to need headphones or a quiet room.

We are left with the question not of whether this is symphonic music, but whether it is effective music: clearly if you expect your music to be an all-guns-blazing orchestral showpiece, you would be disappointed. However, if you have time for the kind of still reflection this piece requires, you will find it absorbing and contemplative.

The choral pieces which provide the filler occupy a similar sound world and are beautifully sung by the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 16 October 2010
I heard a little of this symphony broadcast live from this year's Proms whilst driving home late. I have many of ECM recording's of Part's works and what I heard made me want to buy this recording. It did not disappoint and I would rank this amongst his finest compositions. It is a very quiet piece but extremely satifying to listen to. The music draws you in with its fine nuances and seems to be over in no time at all, which is often the case with good music. The recording quality, whilst very good, is not up to the highest level that I associate with ECM New Series; a small niggle as this is probably better than most classical recordings on other labels. It has been recorded by a third party and released by ECM which may explain this. The additional track is a choral piece that is an extract taken from a previous ECM recording "Kanon Pokajanen". It works well with the Symphony but it makes the new content on this release seem poor value for money but I would recommend buying it for the Symphony No.4.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 17 April 2012
This is music to die to.
It could almost convert you to a religion.
OK that might be OTT - perhaps I'm feeling my mortality - but catch this in the right mood, and really listen and it is transcendental. One could imagine the clouds parting, the blinding light, angelic host, and arrival at wherever your prejudices dictate you should be. Let it take you; forget musical categories (and religion!), this is music for the soul and spirit.
The programming of an excerpt of Kanon Pokajanen after the symphony I initially found irritating as I'd had the two disc Kanon set for a long while; however with further listening it is not so much an 'also available' plug as a logical conclusion: the symphony takes you, this is where you go - you could argue.
While the recording responds to decent equipment with the depth one expects from ECM there is some background noise (more irritatingly detectable with headphones) - it is a live US concert recording, but this not something you get with LSO live recordings for example. I recorded the BBC Prom UK premiere by the same conductor in 2010 and found the interpretation to have developed from the ECM world premiere recording in 2009 which I got soon after - but at least you don't get audience shuffling and coughing on the ECM version!
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on 21 October 2010
I have enjoyed the music of Part for many years and have, in fact, recently visited Tallinn in Estonia, which was his home City. This work represents a departure from the previous music of his that I already have on CD, which is very largely choral. The Symphony is mostly slow paced and quiet and, for some listeners, will seem to lack variety. However, I enjoyed its serenity and have already listened to it several times without becoming in any way bored. Try it!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 2 February 2012
The music on this disc is excellent - very slow and atmospheric. However I found the recording to be very poor.Listening to this piece on my IPod Touch , the background noises were very distracting. Throughout the symphony there was a constant noise that sounded like paper rustling which took away the enjoyment of the music for me. Such quiet music needs the best sound recording and this hasnt happened with this disc. Maybe Naxos can release a better recording than this at some stage, as most of their recordings sound superb on the IPod.
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on 14 January 2015
Brilliant, Arvo Part at his best
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11 of 33 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 21 August 2010
Had the chance to hear this recording of the new symphony, except that I couldn't, for no matter how loud the volume was turned up, the music remained inaudible. Still, I did listen to the recent British premiere, so I can say that this is quiet, abstracted music, I think divided into three movements, but I'm not sure because every moment sounded basically the same. There's a kind of purity to the string-based sound, with a peculiarly jaunty coda. I remember having a similar reaction to Silvestrov's Fifth Symphony. What reaction? Indifference, itchy feet, that sort of thing.

So, Symphony No.4 is a pretty placid work of 35+mins that might bore you. Try Part's previous symphony on DG, or his recently recorded La Sindone (ECM, 2009) for examples of his music at its most dynamic.

Not really surprising that there's a connection with Part's Kanon Pokajanen, fragments of which appear as filler for this disc. The Kanon is a sequence of odes, all concerned with repentance, and all sounding basically identical. The full Kanon of course lasts about eighty minutes, and if you want to dip your toe into it, so to speak, try Part's Memento (Virgin Classics), about 8mins.
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