Six of the best Arvo Pärt recordings

Where should you start with the contemporary Estonian composer's music? Here's our handy guide to the unmissable albums

Six of the best Arvo Pärt recordings

Tabula Rasa
Gidon Kremer (violin), Tatiana Grindenko (violin), Alfred Schnittke (prepared piano), Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra/Saulus Sondeckis
ECM 476 3878

The ECM label, through its founder Manfred Eicher, is in great part responsible for Pärt reaching a broader non-classical listenership. This inaugural ECM Pärt recording features three of his most important and enduring works: Fratres, Cantus and Tabula Rasa.


Passio Domini Nostri Jesu Christi secundum Joannem
The Hilliard Ensemble/Paul Hillier
ECM 837 1092

When Pärt first heard the Hilliard Ensemble perform his St John Passion under Paul Hillier’s direction, he wept at the purity of their intervals and the perfection of their rendering. An ideal recording.




• A guide to Arvo Pärt's life and music

• A review of Polyphony's Arvo Pärt album


Te Deum
Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, Tallinn Chamber Orchestra/Tõnu Kaljuste
ECM 439 1622

The first of several ECM recordings with the outstanding Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir and Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, under the direction of conductor Tõnu Kaljuste, features several major and memorable works: Te Deum, Magnificat, Silouan’s Song and the Berliner Messe.



Various artists
ECM 449 9582

This recording is indispensable both as an excavation to the 1976 origins of tintinnabuli, and as an album to hear, and get lost in, endlessly. Just two sparse and simple compositions here, in multiple subtly-varying renderings. Their copious use in film soundtracks becomes understandable, if not entirely forgivable.



• A review of Für Alina and Spiegel im Spiegel

• A review of Franz Welser-Möst's recording of Pärt's Symphony No. 3



Adam’s Lament
Latvian Radio Choir, Vox Clamantis,
Riga Sinfonietta, Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir & Tallinn Chamber
Orchestra/Tõnu Kaljuste
ECM 476 4825

Pärt’s most recent major work, Adam’s Lament, is a dramatic setting of the eponymous text by St Silouan the Athonite, a 20th-century starets whose influence on Pärt is incalculably large. The disc, which won a Grammy for Best Choral Performance, closes with two irresistible lullabies.


The Tallis Scholars
Gimmell CDGIM049

Pärt has made an indelible mark on contemporary choral singing. The Tallis Scholars’ deep experience with both Renaissance and Russian Orthodox music inform their reverential – and flawless – renderings of one brilliant gem after another.




What's on at the Proms tonight?

Prom 42: Monday 13 August, 7.30pm

Pärt Symphony No. 3

Grieg Piano Concerto in A minor

Sibelius Symphony No. 5

Khatia Buniatishvili (piano); Estonian Festival Orchestra/Paavo Järvi

The Prom will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 3

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