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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Arvo Pärt - Symphony No. 4 (Esa-Pekka Salonen)


Composer: Arvo Pärt
  1. Symphony No. 4 "Los Angeles": I. Con sublimita
  2. Symphony No. 4 "Los Angeles": II. Affannoso
  3. Symphony No. 4 "Los Angeles": III. Deciso
  4. Fragments from "Kanon Pokajanen"

Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra
Esa-Pekka Salonen, conductor (1-3)
Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir
Tõnu Kaljuste, conductor (4)

Date: 2010
Label: ECM


Pärt’s long-awaited Fourth Symphony finally appears

Nobody, I think, would have predicted a Symphony from Arvo Pärt nearly 40 years after his last one. But since No 3 he has developed a vocabulary of a singular intensity and cohesion, which is something he was grasping for, and not quite finding, while still in his native Estonia in 1971. That vocabulary has been established by means of an extended series of choral works, linked ever more clearly with his Orthodox faith but employing an ever-expanding range of musical and linguistic colour. That confidence – evinced most clearly, perhaps, and most recently in the majestic Kanon Pokajanen, fragments of which complement the new Symphony – has transferred itself in no uncertain terms to his instrumental work.

There has probably never been a symphony like this, though one can in some way imagine Bruckner approving of it, and it has a precedent in La Sindone from 2006. Inspired by the Canon to the Guardian Angel (an Orthodox devotional text), it harks back to a Bachian pre-tintinnabuli history, but with the slow lushness characteristic of the composer’s recent work. I find it difficult to comment on the work structurally, so much of a continuous stream is it, but it is important precisely to emphasise the astonishing feeling for that very continuity that the LAPO under Salonen clearly has. The sheer beauty of the sound – and the silence – also does not escape them (I wonder if there is any orchestra on the planet that can make pizzicatos sound as sensuous as this?), but that is also part of the work’s never-ending line. Repeated listening brings great rewards: this is a true symphony for the 21st century.

-- Ivan Moody, Gramophone

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Arvo Pärt (born 11 September 1935 in Paide, Järva County, Estonia) is an Estonian composer of classical and sacred music. Pärt's music is in part inspired by Gregorian chant. Since the late 1970s, Pärt has worked in a minimalist style that employs his self-invented compositional technique, tintinnabuli. He is considered a pioneer of holy minimalism, along with Henryk Górecki and John Tavener. His most performed works include Fratres (1977), Spiegel im Spiegel (1978), and Für Alina (1976). Pärt has been the most performed living composer in the world for five consecutive years.


Esa-Pekka Salonen (born June 30, 1958 in Helsinki, Finland) is a Finnish orchestral conductor and composer. He studied horn and composition at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, as well as conducting with Jorma Panula. Later, Salonen studied with the composers Franco Donatoni, Niccolò Castiglioni and Einojuhani Rautavaara. Salonen was the Music Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic from 1992 to 2009, and subsequently becane its first ever Conductor Laureate. He is currently Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor of the Philharmonia Orchestra in London.


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