This is the fourth in Järvi’s ‘Sound Project’ series, and the first dedicated to a single composer. Arvo Pärt, in his 80th year, is an obvious choice, and the selection of works presented in this recording is refreshing in the way it traverses Pärt’s career in a way that is not predictable. It begins with a rumbustious performance of Credo, which the performers clearly relish. This work is from the composer’s collage period, built on the first prelude from Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier, and is a symbolic endpoint for that style, in which Pärt’s own music is finally completely obliterated by the Bach. If that sounds unpromising to any admirer of the later Pärt, I must say that not only is it, together with the first three symphonies, essential to understanding the composer’s creative trajectory, but is a hugely impressive work in its own right.
The disc includes a number of less frequently performed works by Pärt, such as Mein Weg (originally written in 1989; possibly the only piece in which he actually comes close to sounding like a ‘minimalist’) and Passacaglia (2003), and the first recording of the newly revised version of La Sindone, originally composed in 2005. This is a mysterious work, evoking the burial shroud of Christ, and is full of contrast and colour, to which the controlled power of Järvi and the Leipzig musicians is exactly the right response. It is also quite audibly a relative of Credo: the forty-seven years separating them do not mask the tenacious inner consistency of Pärt’s voice.
A final word of praise for Anne Akiko Meyers, who performs the three works featuring solo violin with a poise that shows a true understanding of Pärt’s complexity-within-simplicity.