English language translation:
Tractus, a word from Latin that had first been called Tract, refers to a religious hymn sung at Mass. Arvo Pärt, a scholar who composed sacred music with minimal elements from the tintinnabuli technique, composed these works that refer to theological essays —Tracts for the Times—written between 1833 and 1841, and initiated by the Anglican priest Henry Newman (1801-1890), who later converted to Catholicism.
The Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir and soprano Maria Listra, under the baton of conductor Tõnu Kaljuste, perform the Estonian composer’s latest work with majesty and sensitivity. It should be noted that the new release, recorded in Tallinn in 2022, is Arvo Pärt’s seventeenth album in his long collaboration with ECM producer Manfred Eicher, which began with the album Tabula Rasa in 1984.
This selection of eight pieces, selected and arranged by Kaljuste, fuses the timbres and textures of the chorus and string orchestra. They are dense, almost sculptural textures in which the director demonstrates his mastery of different technical resources. Musicians, soloist – with the wonderful voice of soprano Maria Listra – and the voices of the fascinating Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir quiet the gestures, mind and spirit.
Arvo Pärt invites us to reflect on the twilight of life, with pieces he composed a couple of decades ago. The album also includes an all-new arrangement. In the opening piece, Littlemore Tractus (The Tractus of Littlemore), originally written for choir and organ, and alternately titled Swansong (“Swan Song”) in its version for large symphony orchestra, Kaljuste unites the choir and chamber orchestra while preserving the sonic clarity of the original piece.
The intimate beauty of the high-pitched voices, the deep breaths that chain the phrasings, the bells ringing and the still melodies of the strings of the Tallinn Orchestra with the soft percussion, create a generous silence in the listener, which becomes a fertile land where Pärt’s inspired music flourishes.
Tõnu Kaljuste is a true artist who creates a powerful and distinctive sound timbre of voices and instruments.