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Arvo Pärt: Litany
Arvo Part, Tonu Kaljuste, Saulius Sondeckis
Arvo Pärt: Litany
Genre: Classical
 
  •  Track Listings (3) - Disc #1

With Litany, Estonian composer Arvo Pärt created one of his most stirring works: a nearly 23-minute-long composition for orchestra and vocal ensemble based on the 24 prayers of St. John Chrysostom (one for each hour of the...  more »

      
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With Litany, Estonian composer Arvo Pärt created one of his most stirring works: a nearly 23-minute-long composition for orchestra and vocal ensemble based on the 24 prayers of St. John Chrysostom (one for each hour of the day). Commissioned for the 25th Oregon Bach Festival, the composition is both memorable and timeless. It finds influences in everything from chant to the repetition of modern minimalism. Play it loudly and the striking vocals of the Hilliard Ensemble simply soar against the strings of the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra. The orchestral Trisagion harkens toward Litany's mood swings and impact, but--sans voice--lacks the mysticism. One of Pärt's best, and as sacred as modern compositions come. --Jason Verlinde

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CD Reviews

The Essence of Meditation
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 06/21/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Arvo Pärt is represented on this excellent CD by three works - two works for string orchestra (Psalom and Trisagion) and one work that defies description. 'Litany', for ATTB soloists, chorus and orchestra is one of those works that do not even seem composed, so fragile and so penetratingly mystical that the music seems to just emerge from the universe. How the Estonian contemporary composer Pärt is able to achieve this is likely something we will never completely understand. We can understand the concept - a litany is a repetition of words or themes used in churches as chants , this particular litany is set to the prayers of St John Chrysostom, a man who lived with extreme asceticism and became a hermit in about 375; he spent the next two years continually standing, scarcely sleeping, and committing the Bible to memory. And perhaps it is this purity of asceticism that imbues this work. The voices of the Hilliard Ensemble glow with a haloed radiance and the orchestral writing is minimal but supportive of these sounds in an otherworldly manner. The ensemble - the Hilliard Ensemble and the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra -are conducted by Tonu Kaljuste. The sonics are courtesy of a staff of engineers whose contribution almost equals that of the conductor. It is an extended nearly twenty-four minute meditation that will remain with the listener forever.

The works for string orchestra are also very strong. The 'Psalom' pulsates in the manner of Arvo Pärt's extended repetition of chords that change almost imperceptibly, the extensions of silence being equally important tot he structure (if that term dared be used) of the work. For this listener it is the stronger of the two works of orchestra, the Trisalom having moments when the ecstasy of the mood is broken or interrupted, damaging the meditative state. These two works are performed by Saulius Sondeckis conducting the Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra. One again, the sonics are stunning. Grady Harp, June 10"