WORKS: Orient & Occident; Ein Wallfahrtslied; Como cierva sedienta
PERFORMER: Swedish RSO & Choir/Tõnu Kaljuste
CATALOGUE NO: 472 080-2
No record company has been more closely associated with the music of Arvo Pärt than ECM, and Orient & Occident updates its continuing association. The work that lends its name to the collection, a seven-minute string-orchestra piece from 2000, paradoxically sounds the slightest in content of the three. Como cierva sedienta, premiered a year earlier in Tenerife, is a half-hour setting of Psalms 42 and 43. Overlong yet full of distinct ideas that make for intriguing listening, it touches at times a note of austere passion worthy of the Spanish mystics. The surging climax for female voices and orchestra at 2:28 minssounds like something new in Pärt’s work, with trumpets and horns nobly singing out amid the resonant polyphony.
Wallfahrtslied (Pilgrims’ Song) dates from 1984, but the version as recorded here, for men’s voices and strings, was first heard in 2001. No less praiseworthy for their purity of pitch and line than their female colleagues in Como cierva sedienta, the men of the Swedish Radio Choir chant Psalm 121 to a single note in a glittering mist of flecked and dappled timbre from divided strings. The mood is of quietly unresolved suspense, beautifully sustained by these performers. Nicholas Williams