The Estonian Philharmonic’s chamber choir gave us a slightly miraculous timbre experience in Oslo Cathedral on Thursday.

The rumours of the Estonian choir has preceded them, but the experience did more than meet expectations, we witnessed a vocal lift that will be with us for a long time to come.

Brahm’s Warum is das Licht gegeben was a great introduction to what really moved us in its simple splendour, Estonian Arvo Pärt’s Pokajanen. The piece was written to the Cologne Cathedral’s 750th anniversary and dedicated to the choir. 

Magical. For Pärt is the sacred minimalism which becomes anything but trifles performed by a choir who grasp the intensity and symbolic – and who manage to convey it in sublime timbre expressions throughout the registers, perfectly intonated and with a precision and balance that creates pure magic for all who have been within hearing distance of polyphone singing.

Miracle timbre. The seamless overlaps between the soloists and the choir impressed the most, as did the mastering of timbre from the most modest pianissimo to the fullest tones. The piece concerns itself with changes from day to night, from prophecy to completion – and with the emphasis on the latter it was a powerful experience despite not understanding a single word of the Church Slavonic language.

One should be careful with heavenly comparisons but the miracle sound of the Estonian philharmonic’s chamber choir tempts me. Now the angels must start to practise!