Concert Review: Long-awaited Pärt Symphony debuted at Proms

Posted on: August 23, 2010

In Saturday’s (8/21) Wall Street Journal, Paul Sharma writes, “It has taken Estonian composer Arvo Pärt the best part of forty years to pen a new symphony, his fourth, called ‘Los Angeles.’ And at 75 next month, the composer was on hand to receive an exceptionally warm welcome at the UK premiere of the new work, played at the BBC Proms by the Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen. … The piece is in three movements, most of which are glacially slow and is scored for strings, harp and percussion, while its rhythms are structured around the words of the orthodox prayer the ‘Canon of the Guardian Angel’. … Meanwhile, harmonically the piece uses his distinctive minimalist tintinnabuli style (essentially triads against a melodic line which has a stepwise motion), but here the chords overlap each other, creating occasional, but complex dissonances. For me, the work feels like it completes a circle for Pärt, as he has found a structure to tie together the harmonic loose-ends derived from serialism from his last symphony.”

Posted August 23, 2010