Pärt: Triodion (CD Review - Classic FM Magazine, 2003)

If one word could stand for Arvo Part’s recent choral output, it would surely be inclusivity, not just because of the composers return to the simple austere harmonies favoured in his early sacred pieces (although that’s a considerable part of the deal in Triodion and Salve Regina), but chiefly thanks to the clarity of his spiritual message. The central section of Dopo la Victoria, a mini-cantata that was commissioned to mark the 1600th Anniversary of Milan’s St Ambrosius, is worth a thousand sermons on the transmission of divine knowledge, from generation to generation. Likewise, Part’s setting of St Luke’s genealogy of Jesus in …which was the son of, itself a triumph of musical imagination, projects the fervour of faith with greater force than words alone. The heartfelt conviction of these piece registers profoundly with Stephen Layton, who draws sublime singing from Polyphony, without allowing their refined work to overshadow Part’s religiosity. The choir’s pursuit of perfection ideally compliments the sheer beauty of the music. I would favour a richer sound from Polyphony’s sopranos at times, although their choirboy like purity connects the repertoire with the age-old English collegiate and cathedral tradition.

Andrew Stewart

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