Sleeping Dogs Lie 11: Arvo Pärt

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

Arbos features some great performances by Pärt specialists of a variety of shorter works. The lament, An den Wassern, has a startling ending that builds in intensity and volume only to break off midphrase. The static Pari Intervallo for organ leads into De Profundis, with its sense of slow but unstoppable movement (every note the same length, every measure the same rhythm). Summa is a straightforward Pärt-style setting of the Credo. The disc closes with a masterpiece, the unbearably sad Stabat Mater for three voices and three strings. – Matthew Westphal

01. Arvo Pärt: “Litany (To Helmuth Rilling and the 25th Oregon Bach Festival)” (from “Litany”, ECM, 1996)
02. Arvo Pärt: “Psalom (To Alfred Schlee on his birthday)” (from “Litany”, ECM, 1996)
03. Arvo Pärt: “Trisagion (Dedicated to the parish of Prophet Elias in Ilomantsi on the occasion of its 500th Anniversary)” (from “Litany”, ECM, 1996)
04. Arvo Pärt: “An Den Wassern Zu Babel” (from “Arbos”, ECM, 1987)
05. Arvo Pärt: “Pari Intervallo” (from “Arbos”, ECM, 1987)
06. Arvo Pärt: “De Profundis” (from “Arbos”, ECM, 1987)
07. Arvo Pärt: “Summa” (from “Arbos”, ECM, 1987)
08. Arvo Pärt: “Stabat Mater” (from “Arbos”, ECM, 1987)