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A richly realized collection of prayers that brings deep, resounding enlightenment to the ears. Everything about this compact disc feels like Arvo Pärt's master work, right down to the gorgeous photos in the accompanying booklet. "Te Deum" opens patiently and ominously, then proceeds to run the spectrum between overflowing swells and hushed contemplation. The Tallinn Chamber Orchestra and the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir breathe as one under the magnificent direction of Tönu Kaljuste for this and "Berliner Messe," the closing mass that parts the clouds with its stark beauty and pious rejoicing (the third passage within the mass, "Erster Alleluiavers," is a brief teardrop of reverence that even atheists would ponder). Elsewhere, the a cappella chorus of "Magnificat" shines with vocals that embrace the church walls with chills and crispness, like a beam of moonlight through winter. One of the composer's strengths has always been to find the depth in simplicity. To this end, ever-present ECM producer Manfred Eicher's sparse and beautiful sensibilities fit Arvo Pärt like a glove, especially with "Silouans Song," which blossoms in stoic waves of strings. Such bittersweet longing resides here ("My soul yearns after the Lord") that a little sadness seems to slip out through all the reverence. This is uniformly his finest album, but by no means does it encompass all he has to offer. The compositions in Te Deum may not reveal Pärt's more eclectic and thunderous side, but few other albums carry such a consistent theme.
Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s