If you like Arvo Pärt, you'll love this. Those who don't will find no reason to change their mind, although Da Pacem Domine is just so glorious that even those died-in-the-wool Arvo antagonists would find difficulty in complaining about it. This is an absolute essential for any Pärt lover.
I bought this after reading a review in Gramophone magazine. It has a mixture of instrumental and choral/instrumental pieces, between five and twenty minutes in duration (total 71:02). Their reviewer noted a similarity in the title piece with music by janacek and Leifs - a personal favourite - and I wouldn't disagree, except to say that Part always seems uniquely meditative or prayerful, even when the music is very animated or fierce. I particularly enjoyed the shimmering sonorities on La Sindone. Da Pacem Domine is here presented with an orchestral accompaniment to the choir; personally, I prefer the unaccompanied versionArvo Pärt: Da Pacem.
Given the relative brevity of these pieces, when compared to things like Passio or Kanon Pokajanen,and ECM's superb production - righ down to the booklet paper - this CD can be spiritually recommended to Part newcomers for a first try, and those in the know.
This is a brilliant CD which is, for my money, the best ECM Arvo CD since Te Deum. The CDs in the intervening years have all been good, but none have moved me as much as In Principio. Musically, it's both a further development of his tintinnabuli style - the title piece in particular - and a return to some favourites, such as the new versions of Da Pacem and Mein Weg. La Sidone and Cecilia Virgine Romana are very strong, heading in a new direction, perhaps, whilst retaining recognisable tintinnabuli roots, while the closer, For Lennart in Memoriam is a further 'installment' in the series of short orchestral pieces that began with Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten, and is deeply moving. Perhaps silence is the only response to music like this, and also time to stop writing about it...