Lebrecht’s Album of the Week: Arvo Pärt – Works for Choir (Cugate Classics)

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  • Cugate Classics
  • User Ratings (2 Votes)

I chucked out a bunch of new releases this week, mostly solo recitals on esoteric instruments like the harp, the mandolin and the saxophone, though also viola, voice and harpsichord, some on so-called major labels. These recitals tend to be paid for by the soloist after a label decides they are uncommercial. Knowing that people are unlikely to buy it, why would I waste valuable time reviewing it and you reading about it? In these fragile times when every hour of life is doubly precious, artists need to think twice and think again before pushing out more and more of these promotional discs. The recycle bin is overflowing.

If there’s one thing I’ve missed more in Covid than the sound of a symphony orchestra tuning up it’s the little shuffle a choir gives before it opens throats and lets rip. While I’m not a great fan of the flock of Anglican dirges with organ obbligato that descends at this time of year, and less still of the growling of Russian monks, Pärt’s unaccompanied devotions occupy a space all their own, a contemplation of the divine beneath God’s own skies. When Pärt titles a piece ‘Magnificat, you can be confident that it is. The insult of ‘holy minimalism’ that Boulez hurled his way has never sound less appropriate.

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I know nothing about the Vilnius Municipal Choir not its artistic director Vaclovas Augustinas because the label – also new to me – has not bothered to supply a booklet. But the 40 minutes of music on this album is alternately hypnotic and uplifting and I can recommend it without hesitation – just the caveats that it’s short and uninformative. Lord, they have lovely choirs on the Baltic. When, oh when, will we hear them live again?


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About Author

Norman Lebrecht is a prolific writer on music and cultural affairs. His blog, Slipped Disc, is one of the most popular sites for cultural news. He presents The Lebrecht Interview on BBC Radio 3 and is a contributor to several publications, including the Wall Street Journal and The Standpoint. Visit every Friday for his weekly CD review // Norman Lebrecht est un rédacteur prolifique couvrant les événements musicaux et Slipped Disc, est un des plus populaires sites de nouvelles culturelles. Il anime The Lebrecht Interview sur la BBC Radio 3 et collabore à plusieurs publications, dont The Wall Street Journal et The Standpoint. Vous pouvez lire ses critiques de disques chaque vendredi.

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