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Some 45 years separate Arvo Pärt’s first and fourth symphonies; and a world separates them in terms of expression. The Wrocław orchestra traverses both languages with supreme confidence, caught in a demonstration standard recording. The first symphony (1964, when the composer was 28) concentrates on dissonant counterpoint: its two movements are ‘Canons’ and ‘Prelude and Fugue’. Astringency and Ivesian cacophony convey an underlying restlessness; the second symphony (1966), like the first, is fundamentally dodecaphonic, but quotes a Tchaikovsky piano piece towards the end to powerful effect.

The third symphony (1971) is a transitional work, far more tonal and Church-Slavonic influenced. The more recent fourth symphony, Los Angeles (2008), speaks in a concentrated, profound and interior manner, beautifully presented.

COLIN CLARKE Read the full review on Agora Classica


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