Arvo Pärt: “Da Pacem”, Harmonia Mundi
Christopher Bowers-Broadbent, organ
Kaia Urb, soprano
Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir
Paul Hillier, conductor
Few composers create more moving wholes from the simplest parts than Arvo Pärt, whose sacred vocal works meld the modern and the medieval. Covering pieces from 1984 to 2004, “Da Pacem” is the third excellent Harmonia Mundi disc devoted to Pärt’s choral works by choral conductor and Pärt biographer Paul Hillier. The characteristically haunting title track, “Da Pacem Domine” (Give Peace in Our Time), is the latest score, although it mirrors Pärt’s great mid-’70s organ piece “Pari Intervallo.”
The same pure tuning, rhythmic discipline and intense expression characterize these performances as those of past Hillier/Pärt albums, with the Estonian Philharmonic Choir steeped in the idiom. The 13-minute “Salve Regina,” like several other tracks, features the peerlessly atmospheric organ playing of Christopher Bowers-Broadbent. Other highlights include the little-heard “Littlemore Tractus,” driven by dark, deep-toned organ and the choir’s bittersweet unisons.