Review By Colin Clarke,Fanfare,April 2007
"The subtle, ethereal unaccompanied choral music of Arvo Pärt seems ideally suited to the Canadian choir, the Elora Festival Singers. The hushed reverence that forms the core of Pärt's expressive apparatus benefits from this choir's combination of warmth and clarity, superbly caught by Naxos's production team. Nowhere is this better illustrated than in Triodion, one of Pärt's most famous scores. The work has links with Benjamin Britten (it was commissioned by Lancing College. Sussex, an institution for which Britten penned his cantata Saint Nicholas). Setting three odes from the Orthodox Prayer-Book, Pärt dwells on the beauty of the texts themselves, reflecting this trait in his music. The third ode is particularly devotional in nature, and
Of almost equal duration is Dopo la vittoria, a work written for the 1600th anniversary of the death of Saint Ambrose. The scoring here is perhaps more varied that in the other works, but no less devotional for it.
The Tribute to Caesar calls to mind the depth of utterance of a Russian Orthodox Choir (it sets text from Matthew’s Gospel). In terms of sheer loveliness, honors are shared between the Nunc dimittis of 2001 (a simply beautiful harmonic shift around 4:55) and I am the True Vine (composed in 1996 for the 900th anniversary of Norwich Cathedral on a text from the Gospel of Saint John). The Woman with the Alabaster Box exemplifies Pärt’s delicacy to perfection. The Elora Festival Singers manage to sustain a truly reverential atmosphere throughout.
The hymn to divine femininity that is the Bogoróditse Djévo is the shortest item on the disc at 1:38, but it makes the most direct emotional impact. Almost jolly in demeanor, it is a fitting way to end a memorable disc.
...Musically this is a rewarding disc and if you do not already have the Hyperion recording on Pärt choral music (CDA 67375; Polyphony conducted by Stephen Layton), this one fits the bill perfectly, especially at the lower cost. My colleague Henry Fogel gave a warm welcome to this choir’s Naxos disc of music by Healey William in Fanfare 30:1. I can only echo his sentiments with reference to the present offering."