Part: Triodion; Ode VII (Memento); I am the True Vine; Dopo la vittoria

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Part
LABELS: Naxos
ALBUM TITLE: Pärt
WORKS: Triodion; Ode VII (Memento); I am the True Vine; Dopo la vittoria
PERFORMER: Elora Festiva Singers/Noel Edison
CATALOGUE NO: 8.570239
It’s interesting to compare the

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performances of Dopo la vittoria

and Nunc dimittis recorded here

with those on the recent Estonian

Philharmonic Chamber Choir disc

(Harmonia Mundi, reviewed last

issue). Both ensembles are admirably

precise and rounded in tone, and

both seem entirely at home with

Pärt’s unique devotional style, which

at its best can seem to say so much

with such minimal means.

The Estonians’ singing has a

slightly edgier intensity, while it’s

the purity of the Canadian Elora

Festival Singers’ sound that strikes

the ear here. In Dopo la vittoria the

off-beat echo effects in the narrative

sections have a lightness and mobility

that the Elora can’t quite match, but

the climax in the Elora version has

a radiance and a wonderful sense

of gradual repose that is well worth

waiting for.

In fact the Elora are particularly

good with endings: the conclusion of the Nunc dimittis is quietly

compelling – not as gorgeous as the

Estonians, but stirring enough to

linger in the memory. Having said

that, the opening of O Holy Saint

Nicholas is also a model of contained

emotion. The Estonian’s versions

of the austere Kanon Pokajanen will

remain the classic for anyone who

wants to experience this huge, Lenten

meditation in full. But the Elora

version of its seventh movement,

‘Memento’, is a good introduction,

likewise leaving one wondering how

music that seems so technically bare

and expressively self-negating can

leave such a powerful impression.

The recording is excellent: plenty

of ethereal reverberation but with

every detail clearly audible. For

anyone interested in sacred choral

music, this would be a good disc to

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start exploring Pärt. Stephen Johnson