recommended music

Arvo Pärt, Da Pacem

by Mark Nowakowski

In "Da Pacem," the noted Arvo Pärt scholar Paul Hillier once again leads the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir in another spectacular effort-- one that earned this CD a Grammy for Best Choral Performance of 2006 and universal critical acclaim. The luminous quality of the choral group matches with Hillier's unparalleled knowledge of Pärt's music to create what may be the best Pärt recording currently available. This recording is also notable as the premiere recording of Pärt's "Two Slavonic Poems" (1984/1997.) Of particular interest to Catholics is the "Littlemore Tractus"(2000), the title being taken from a poem by the great Catholic reformist Cardinal John Henry Newman, in celebration of the bicentenary of his birth in 2001. Perhaps the most hypnotic performance is of "Da Pacem Domine," a work which somehow seems to straddle the fence between ancient simplicity and modern construction. Deutsch Gramophone magazine says that "Hillier's interpretations are about as definitive as you can get." Highly suggested.

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