For the past week, I’ve been parcelling out the pieces of a work that should be experienced whole, although in performance and on recordings, some of the movements of Arvo Pärt’s Sieben Magnificat Antiphonen are sometimes extracted and presented without the full context.
Before Christmas arrives, I thought I should make easily available on these pages a performance of the entire work. From the Arvo Pärt Centre’s website, here is the “official” summary of the work:
Arvo Pärt has assembled these prayers into one comprehensive concert piece based on the German text of the antiphons. The work is composed in rigorous tintinnabulistyle, but each part has its own complete form and individual character, which is why they are sometimes performed as separate miniatures at concerts. Consecutive antiphons often contrast with each other: a new key, a new dynamic, a changed texture, or direction of the movement of the voices draws the listener’s attention to the important image in the text, highlighting its essence.
The performance below is by the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, conducted by Tönu Kaljuste, Pärt’s fellow country-man and widely regarded as one of the composer’s closest and most faithful interpreters.