The second ECM New Series album to fully showcase pure-toned Estonian vocal group Vox Clamantis and its artistic director/conductor Jaan-Eik Tulve is devoted to compositions by their great countryman, Arvo Pärt – whose music has been the most performed globally of any living composer over the past five years. This album – titled The Deer’s Cry after its first track, an incantatory work for a cappella mixed choir – is also the latest in an illustrious line of ECM New Series releases to feature Pärt’s compositions, the very music that inspired Manfred Eicher to establish the New Series imprint in 1984.
The Suspended Harp of Babel features revelatory performances of the choral music of Estonian composer Cyrillus Kreek (1889-1962). Kreek’s pieces, incorporating graceful settings of psalms and folk hymns, are juxtaposed here with instrumental fantasias and interludes created for this recording by Marco Ambrosini. Under the direction of Jan-Eike Tulve, the Vox Clamantis choir - whose previous ECM recordings have addressed works of Arvo Pärt, Erkki-Sven Tüür and Helena Tulve as well as Gregorian chant- prove to be ideal interpreters of a music poised between old and new. The Suspended Harp of Babel was recorded in Tallinn’s Transfiguration Church in August 2018.
Voices from the depths On Henrik Ødegaard´s album Te lucis ante terminum, voices from the Gregorian tradition meet a new, modern musical language in an organic, but nonetheless refreshing and unpredictable way. Ødegaard has engrossed himself in Gregorian chant and written several works that have taken their inspiration from the Gregorian tradition and from Catholic liturgy, and filter voices from the depths of our western vocal tradition through his own finely tuned means of expression.
"Sacrum Convivium" presents a vision of French music over two millennia: from Gregorian chant through Guillaume de Machaut’s extraordinary ‘Lai de Nostre Dame’ to the Twentieth Century of Maurice Duruflé, Francis Poulenc and Olivier Messiaen, all three of them influenced in some way by the spirituality and sensibility of Gregorian chant, which Messiaen himself described as “the greatest treasure we possess in western music.”
Pärt is one of the few composers to whom the term "new simplicity"- in itself absurd, and used both mistakenly and misleadingly - really applies. After a thorough study of medieval music, he arrived at a personal style which uses the minimum means to achieve a high degree of intensity. In view of the similarity to the structure of bell sounds, Pärt calls it "tintinnabuli style". By means of almost purely tonal structures - frequently broken triads and scales - Pärt creates an inner balance of form and harmony which can be understood in terms of his deep religious faith and inclination to mysticism.