After performing a concert of modern Baltic music in Midtown Friday night, the Latvian Radio Choir made their way uptown to Alice Tully Hall on Saturday, joining forces with the Sinfonietta Riga for a program dedicated to the mystical Estonian composer, Arvo Pärt. Although deeply religious in tone, Pärt’s music transcends any segmentation of creed or belief, eschewing organized religion in order to give testament to a higher, humanistic perspective. And despite the overall sonic stasis, the Estonian’s works are incredibly difficult to perform, requiring a great amount of dedication and patience from performers and audiences alike.
The fully stocked evening included the Berliner Messe, composed in 1990, shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the Te Deum—both lengthy works that achieve new levels of profundity in approaching traditional texts of the Latin Mass. In many ways, the two compositions mirror each other perfectly; the Berliner Messe’s quiet consolation juxtaposed with the Te Deum’s triumphant jubilation.
Conductor Tõnu Kaljuste took control of the groups, contouring a great sense of the vocal lines while giving the strings the precise direction they needed. The choir melted beautifully together during the Veni Sancte Spiritus, traversing the tricky alteration of consonance and dissonance found throughout all of Pärt’s scores. The closing Agnus Dei was icy in its initial lines—high sopranos invoking their chant over violin harmonics—with the tenors and basses adding heft before both groups fell silent after the final syllable.