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Part - Tintinnabuli / Phillips, Tallis Scholars

Part,A. / Tallis Scholars / Phillips,Peter
Release Date: 03/10/2015 
Label:  Gimell   Catalog #: 49  
Composer:  Arvo Pärt
Conductor:  Peter Phillips
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tallis Scholars
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews


I don’t believe the Tallis Scholars have recorded any of Arvo Pärt’s music before; their repertoire has been happily and brilliantly placed in the Renaissance, aside from a side trip to that contemporary semi-bore, the late John Tavener, who, I presume, must be acknowledged by every British choral group or they have their passports revoked. Composed 500 years after the Renaissance, Pärt’s music reminds one intrinsically of that era; Peter Phillips’ essay in the accompanying booklet is enlightening and clarifying on the subject. Here, in celebration of Pärt’s 80th birthday, is their tribute to him, and it’s a stunning one indeed.

All of the selections, as the CD’s title
Read more suggests, are prime examples of the Holy Minimalist’s “tintinnabuli”, or bell-like style (a description that becomes clear as soon as you hear the music). Managing to sound simple and always easy to listen to, repeated hearings of Pärt’s music allows the listener to discover how he works his aural magic: the notes intoned by the bass voice are repeated by soprano; it’s the distance and resonances that make one sit up and hear. Silences are used as transitions themselves; when a chord does not resolve into absolute consonance, it is often close enough to create an inquisitive comfort. And while there is an aura of piety surrounding every note–and silence–Pärt creates, it is incredibly comfortable piety, the certainty of one who believes. If I were forced, I would use the word “cosmic”–but luckily, I’m not being forced.

The Tallis Scholars inhabit Pärt’s sound world with an appropriate combination of profundity and ease. If you give a careful listen to the opening Antiphon, “O Weisheit” (Oh, wisdom, in English–texts and translations are supplied), all 75 seconds of it, you’ll know his world: bright, tender consonance, rhythmic interruptions that are surprising but not jarring, the contrast between high and low voices. The Nunc dimittis, in three sections equaling just under six minutes, opens with a perfect arpeggio for the a cappella voices; the second section, in longer syllables and with some long-held bass notes, contrasts with a truly bell-like soprano part that goes through many harmonic and textural changes; the piece ends with a circular “Gloria” that is as involving as it is magical and brief.

Which Was the Son of… is a musical recitation of the entire genealogy of Christ. The textures and tempos change, but the work’s charm–and wit (the closest Pärt comes to humor, I believe)–is a delight. After “…which was the son of God”, there is a tiny “Amen” that sounds more like bells than bells. The Woman with the Alabaster Box recalls the woman who anointed Jesus when he was in the house of the leper. It is a solemn narrative, told in solid chords. The Tribute to Caesar is similar storytelling, with the occasional solo voice coming to the fore, and he asks the basses to linger on a low C near its close, adding to the finality.

There’s more, of course, and all of it is ravishing. You might think that such spare sounds would tire the listener, but the opposite is true. The performances are glorious, the singers’ intonation frighteningly pure, the ambiance around them natural and undramatic. Most of us who know this music became familiar with it through the Hilliard Ensemble; these performances are on a par with those ideal ones. Any recording you might buy of Pärt’s music by the Hilliard will be perfect, and so is this one.

-- Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1.
Triodion by Arvo Pärt
Conductor:  Peter Phillips
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tallis Scholars
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1998 
2.
Tribute to Caesar by Arvo Pärt
Conductor:  Peter Phillips
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tallis Scholars
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1997 
3.
The Woman with the Alabaster Box by Arvo Pärt
Conductor:  Peter Phillips
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tallis Scholars
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1997 
4.
Nunc dimittis by Arvo Pärt
Conductor:  Peter Phillips
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tallis Scholars
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2001; Germany 
5.
Magnificat Antiphons (7) by Arvo Pärt
Conductor:  Peter Phillips
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tallis Scholars
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1988/1991 
6.
Magnificat by Arvo Pärt
Conductor:  Peter Phillips
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tallis Scholars
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1989; Germany 
7.
I am the True Vine by Arvo Pärt
Conductor:  Peter Phillips
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tallis Scholars
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1996 
8.
...which was the son of... by Arvo Pärt
Conductor:  Peter Phillips
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tallis Scholars
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2000; Germany 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Disappointing August 6, 2015 By Mary Lynn H. (San Antonio, TX) See All My Reviews "I heard a piece from this on the local NPR and my husband wanted it. We were disappointed. The Music is wonderful, the singing is wonderful but the recording is just bad. It's grainy and hard. With choral music of this quality, the nuance and beauty is lost in terrible sound. I wish I could recommend it but I just can't." Report Abuse
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