COMPOSERS: Arvo Pärt
LABELS: Col legno
ALBUM TITLE: Pärt
PERFORMER: Wilten Boys’ Choir/Johannes Stecher
CATALOGUE NO: WWE 1CD 20427
Commentators can be quick to dismiss Pärt’s music as too simple or sentimental. Yet such claims belie the complex musical and political process that saw Pärt arrive at his ‘tintinnabulatory’ approach amid the iron strictures of communist Estonia. This fine collection of choral works gathers together a rich array of Pärt’s works for voice, featuring a number of surprisingly strident, urgent works amid Pärt’s otherwise controlled musical expression. The disc is also notable in being the first recording of Pärt’s vocal music performed by children’s voices.
The collection ranges from the plaintive Magnificat of 1985 to two spirited world premiere recordings, including Drei Hirtenkinder aus Fátima (2015), where the setting of Matthew 21: 6 (‘out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?’) is all the more affecting for the young voices here performing. Composed to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Pope Benedict’s ordination, the syrupy Vater unser for boy soprano and piano still baffles, but is rendered with warmth and maturity (although the sleeve notes do not say by whom). The disc otherwise captures Pärt’s profoundly gentle musical sensibility and his remarkable capacity to build restrained yet beguiling harmonies from the simplest of materials, all handled with skill and confidence by the Wilten Boys’ Choir. Kate Wakeling