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Music Reviews

Part, Arvo – “Litany ” – [Ecm Records]

Thurston Hunger   10/23/1996   A Library, CD

Technically black is not a color, but the absence thereof. Similarly, silence is not a sound, but its absence. And yet silence is critical to Arvo Part’s sonic palette. Aural afterimages echo as quiet caverns of drone. Dissonant tension stretches taught across gaps between notes.

Arvo Part is dynamics. Stark yet strangely serene solitude. Quiet majesty. Ethereality. “Litany” is an epic offering, English lyrics transcribed from prayer are felt rather than heard, thanks to the Hilliard Ensemble’s “volume pedal” grace. “Psalom” is a latticework of breaths on strings. “Trisagion” is the sound of a high priest walking at midnight among the dead upon a battlefield in a religious war. Faith and doubt commune. Music for epiphany.

Thurston Hunger 10/23 1996