Pärt: Symphony No. 4. Kanon Pokajanen (excerpts)

Album review
Pärt: Symphony No. 4. Kanon Pokajanen (excerpts)


Symphony No. 4

Label: ECM
Media: CD
Genre: Classical

Arvo Pärt’s music, both choral and instrumental, often uses religious texts for a starting point. How apt that the 75-year- old composer based his Symphony No. 4, commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, on the “Canon of the Guardian Angel” from the Eastern Orthodox tradition. Scored for strings, harp, timpani, and percussion, the work is in Pärt’s familiar “holy minimalist” style: at once dramatically charged and blissfully static. Its three movements are very much of a piece, but there are also necessary contrasts. “Con Sublimità” offers a spare lyricism, sometimes sublime, sometimes declamatory, sometimes tortured; “Affannoso” is halting, tentative, and conflicted; the closing “Deciso” is imbued with resignation and acceptance. This concert recording from Walt Disney Concert Hall offers a mid-hall aural perspective. The sonics are naturally spacious, with a surprisingly potent low end, and chimes ring out with impressive immediacy. The CD’s filler, excerpts from Pärt’s Kanon pokajanen for mixed choir, also has a canonic source, an Eighth Century Greek Orthodox hymn. The music soars with a direct emotional intensity that’s quite moving. ECM’s recording here originates from an Estonian church—it’s atmospheric yet remarkably transparent. 

More Info

  • composer, Part
  • primary artist, Los Angeles Philharmonic
  • CD

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