Vox Clamantis perform The Deer’s Cry by Arvo Pärt

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COMPOSERS: Arvo Pärt
LABELS: ECM
ALBUM TITLE: Pärt
WORKS: The Deer’s Cry; Von Angesicht zu Angesicht; Alleluia-Tropus; Veni creator; Drei Hirtenkinder aus Fátima; And One of the Pharisees; Da pacem Domine; Most Holy Mother of God; Virgencita; Sei gelobt, du Baum; Habitare fratres in unum; Summa; Prayer after the Canon
PERFORMER: Vox Clamantis/Jaan-Eik Tulve
CATALOGUE NO: 4812449

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On the printed page, Arvo Pärt’s The Deer’s Cry does not look difficult: not too many notes, no tricky harmonic side-steps to negotiate. And yet the level of artistry necessary to achieve the kind of living, breathing performance given here by the Estonian choir Vox Clamantis is a rarity. ‘Christ with me’, the ground-chant repeated by the lower voices, thrums like a heartbeat, the rests are filled with rapt expectancy, and the eventual crescendo has a ripe, inevitable quality to it. The 15 singers sound in complete, comfortable possession of the music and its incantatory intentions – unsurprisingly, as they have extensive experience performing it, and Pärt himself was at the recording sessions.

Conductor Jaan-Eik Tulve’s ability to infuse the apparently simplest of settings with vibrancy is again evident in the gently lilting account of Veni creator, with burbling organ accompaniment. A visionary account of Von Angesicht zu Angesicht, a pulsing Da Pacem Domine, and the outstanding tenor and countertenor solos in And One of the Pharisees… are other highlights.

Paul Hillier and Stephen Layton’s recordings remain indispensable, but this grippingly authentic and superbly sung collection may now be the finest single-disc introduction to Pärt’s music.

Terry Blain

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Listen to an excerpt from this recording here.