Classical CD Reviews

ARVO PAART: Symphony No. 4 “Los Angeles” – Los Angeles Philharmonic/Esa-Pekka Salonen; Fragments from “Kanon pokajanen” – Estonian Philharmonic Ch. Choir/ Esa-Pekka Salonen – ECM

A deeply satisfying symphony from one of our century’s great composers.

Published on April 24, 2013

ARVO PAART: Symphony No. 4 “Los Angeles” (2008) – Los Angeles Philharmonic/Esa-Pekka Salonen; Fragments from “Kanon pokajanen” (1997) – Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir/ Esa-Pekka Salonen – ECM New Series 2160, 50:00 *****:

There is always some Pärt on my home playlist. It’s deep and contemplative music, and like Hovhaness, it is always a satisfying listen.

The Symphony No. 4, coming almost 40 years after the composer’s 3rd, is not a disappointment. Subtitled ‘Los Angeles’, the work was commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association and the Canberra International Music Festival.

Trying to identify the programmatic references in anything by Pärt can be puzzling, because the work, like much of what Pärt has written, is based on Church Slavonic poetry. This is a symphony in three movements based on a text from Cesare Beccaria:

“…grace and pardon are all the more necessary as the laws are absurd and the sentences are cruel.”

The playing of the Los Angeles Philharmonic under Esa-Pekka Salonen is up to the highest expectations, and the recording, dating from 2009 at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, is detailed with some stunning bass from the low strings. The recording also contains excerpts from the Pärt Kanon pokajanen from 1997. That performance features the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir.

If you haven’t listened to Pärt it is worth your time. There isn’t a better place to start than this new, and only, recording of his 4th Symphony.

—Mel Martin




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