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Cappella Romana, Alexander Lingas - Arvo Pärt: Odes of Repentance
(Cappella Records, 2023)
Cappella Romana was established in 1991 with the commitment to mastering the Slavic and Byzantine sacred musical repertories in their original languages. These traditions are related to their sibling Western Plainchant and Gregorian Chant but remain underperformed and underrecorded for Western ears.
Cappella Records was founded at the same time as the Cappella Romana ensemble, providing the means of spreading Eastern Orthodox music in America. From the beginning, the choir and label have dedicated themselves to the music of Estonian composer Arvo Pärt, the ensemble's first performing Pärt’s Passio in its inaugural, 1992 season.
In 2009, the ensemble received a request for a presentation of Pärt’s choral works drawn from Orthodox traditions. This unique recording of Odes of Repentance came from this request, made at the time by Musicfest (Vancouver, British Columbia). This offering presents selections of Pärt’s compositions related to repentance. In the Eastern tradition, repentance represents a change in spiritual direction, a reorientation. Odes of Repentance includes three pieces from Pärt’s Kanon Pokajanen, the composer’s lengthiest choral composition, with repentance as its subject.
Under the direction of Alexander Lingas, Cappella Romana’s expansive sound condenses into a dense and compact space, quickened by the presence of basso profundo Glenn Miller. The gravity of the ensemble's performance is impressive, its sonics captured warmly, recorded at The Gus Kriara Lodge of Camp Angelos, Corbett, Oregon.
The tone of these pieces is somber but not oppressive. Rather than sounding like traditional plainchant, these more modern compositions bear the evidence of their evolution through polyphony and the Eastern rite. Pärt (and the late John Tavener) are the modern proponents for this music. Most arresting are the selections from Kanon Pokajanen. Pärt’s achievement in Easter Choral music is evident and well expressed in this carefully considered collection.