Album: Arvo Part, Symphony No. 4 (ECM)

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The Independent Culture

Almost 40 years on from his third symphony, Arvo Pärt returned to the form with this "Los Angeles" symphony, recorded at that city's Walt Disney Concert Hall with the LA Philharmonic last year.

Scored for string orchestra, harp, tympani and percussion, it opens imperceptibly in a quiet shimmer of strings before developing in stirring but sombre manner, the waves of rising string flourishes peaking like straining voices, while chimes signal changes as in choral works. This is no accident, the piece being based on an underlying (but unsung) text, the Canon of the Guardian Angel. It's paired here with an edited version of the Kanon Pokajanen, performed by the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir.