PÄRT Te Deum & other choral works
This is an absolutely outstanding release, bringing together a number of particularly intriguing works by Pärt. Though one could justifiably argue that yet another recording of Fratres was hardly necessary, the performance by Serbian violinist Gordan Nikolitch and the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra is so good that to complain would be churlish. Nikolitch’s sound is utterly captivating: every single note of those apparently ordinary arpeggiated figures is given its due weight.
Fratres acts as a kind of palate-cleanser before the staggering performance of the Te Deum that is the centrepiece of the disc. It is one of Pärt’s most remarkable achievements and the Dutch performers, under the direction of Estonian Risto Joost, have risen to the occasion with as much inspiration as those under Tõnu Kaljuste on the work’s first recording in 1993. That recording strikes me in comparison as smooth, while this new version is more polychrome, more sparkling. Similarly, Kaljuste’s recording of Orient and Occident seems to make slightly less of the clashing contrast between the two cultures symbolically represented in it. But of course, the music can easily stand both approaches.
Wallfahrtslied is another strange piece and once again neither choir nor orchestra shies away from that. The inclusion of the a cappella setting of the Nunc dimittis means that we also hear the excellent Netherlands Chamber Choir on their own. The disc was recorded in the remarkable building which is the Muziekgebouw aan ’t IJ in Amsterdam; the sound quality is excellent, resonant but detailed.