If you haven’t heard any music by Arvo Part, you are missing out on some of the most important (as well as some of the best) music being written and performed. He’s from Estonia, and focuses on mostly modern liturgical and classical compositions, primarily from an Estonian Orthodox heritage. Now, don’t let any of this dissuade you if you’re not Estonian, Orthodox, or even a theist. He’s created a style of music called “tintinnabuli” that must be heard to be appreciated. His most enchanting pieces like Tabula Rasa and I Am The Vine are must haves to understand 20th century music. A complete mix of timeless, eternal and yet modern sounds and voices.
This latest release is one of his best. He uses the sounds and voices of the Latvian Radio Choir, Vox Clamantis and the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir as well as Estonian and Latvian Orchestras to create a sound and style that coalesces Gregorian Chants, Orthodox liturgy, modern classical and late era Verdi. The pieces are divided between a handful of small pieces (such as a Christmas Lullabye and an Estonian Lullabye) and some larger pieces like the 24 minute title track. The main piece is taken from a collection of texts from the Greek Orthodox monastery Mt Athos (where I actually had a great uncle who was a monk there for his adult life) and the music is both other worldly and hauntingly modern. The script is essentially the reflections of the First Man after starting this thing called sin in the whole human race, and even if you don’t buy into it (ok-YOU give a reason for the world’s problems!) the melding of voices, strings and percussion is something that you can’t shake. “L’Abbe Agathon” tells an intriguing story with the heavenly voices mixed with Medieval yet Modern rhythms and sounds. As CS Lewis wrote, “art that is not eternally focused is eternally obsolete.” Let this music convince you of that statement’s veracity.
ECM New Series Records