by Arvo Pärt
Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir
conductor Kaspars Putniņš
Arvo Pärt had long been involved in the tradition of the Russian Orthodox Church, and was studying Church Slavonic when, in 1998, he dedicated his Canon of Repentance to the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir directed by Tõnu Kaljuste, who premièred it in commemoration of the 750th anniversary of the Cologne Cathedral. The Canon’s penitential text in the archaic Slavic idiom had immediately conquered Pärt, who explained that “the words define the music, based on the construction of the text”. Although it remains in a single tonal area (D minor), the Canon is intricately organized and took over two years to compose, resulting from the encounter of the Russian/Byzantine sacred chant with the choral pacing Pärt had been developing from his unmistakable “tintinnabuli” style.