Arvo Pärt – Te Deum – Akademisk Kor – Akademisk Orkester – Nenia Zenana – Marianne G. Nielsen

Akademisk Kor.
Akademisk Orkester.
Nenia Zenana, conductor.
Marianne G. Nielsen, solist.

Academic Orchestra was founded in 1899, and in 1935 was created by the Academic Choir. There is therefore a well-established ensemble, where particularly the choir has managed to lead traditionerneop in the present and develop its own interpretation of the music.

Academic Choir is an ambitious amateur choir with a long tradition of the construction of major choral works, particularly oratorie works and exhibitions, which must be shown together with the Academic Orchestra. Academic Orchestra and Choir performs every Christmas Handel’s Messiah in Copenhagen Cathedral, an annual tradition since the first performance in 1946.

Academic Choir was originally an ensemble of students, but today consists of approximately 70 members with different backgrounds. Nenia Zenana has been
conductor for choir and Orchestra since the summer of 2000.

Arvo Pärt (born 11 september 1935) is an Estonian composer. He was born in Paide, and grew up in Tallinn. In 1980 he emigrated because of dissatisfaction with the Soviet authorities and settled first in Vienna, then Berlin.

As a young composer experimented Pärt a part with a variety of the Western modernismes composition techniques; but gradually he found his own style: a personal variant of minimalism, which has made him one of today’s best-known and most popular of classical composers. His music in this style is influenced by his religiousness and his interest in choral music from 14. to 16. in the 19th century.

His best-known work is probably Fratres, available in editions for a number of different combinations of instruments.

Te Deum is a setting of the Latin Te Deum text, also known as the Ambrosian Hymn attributed to Saints Ambrose, Augustine, and Hilary, by Estonian-born composer Arvo Pärt commissioned by the Westdeutscher Rundfunk Radio in Cologne, Germany in 1984. Dedicated to the late Alfred Schlee of Universal Edition, the WDR Broadcast Choir premiered the Te Deum under the direction of conductor Dennis Russell Davies on January 19, 1985. The Te Deum plays an important role in the services of many Christian denominations, including the Paraklesis (Moleben) of Thanksgiving in the Eastern Orthodox Church. Because of the unusual instrumentation Pärt employs, his Te Deum is not suited for use within the Orthodox Church. It was recorded on the ECM New Series label in 1993 by the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir and Tallinn Chamber Orchestra under the direction of Tõnu Kaljuste. The piece is approximately thirty minutes long.

Te Deum employs Pärt’s signature tintinnabuli compositional style. Tintinnabuli is often described as a minimalistic compositional technique, as its harmonic logic departs from that of the tonal tradition of Western classical music, creating its own distinct harmonic system. Tintinnabulation is a process in which a chosen triad encircles a melody, manifesting itself in specific positions in relation to the melody according to a predetermined scheme of adjacency. In its most rudimentary form, Pärt’s tintinnabuli music is composed of two main voices: one carries the usually stepwise melody (M-voice) while the other follows the trajectory of the melody but is limited to notes of a specific triad (T-voice.) In the case of Te Deum, it is a D triad that is featured in the T-voice, and as such provides the harmonic basis for the entire piece.

The work is scored for three choirs (women’s choir, men’s choir, and mixed choir), prepared piano, divisi strings, and wind harp. According to the Universal Edition full score, the piano part requires that four pitches be prepared with metal screws and calls for “as large a concert grand as possible” and “amplified.” The wind harp is similar to the Aeolian Harp, its strings vibrating due to wind passing through the instrument. Manfred Eicher of ECM Records “recorded this ‘wind music’ on tape and processed it acoustically.” The two notes (D and A) performed on the wind harp are to be played on two separate CD or DAT recordings. According to the score preface, the wind harp functions as a drone throughout the piece, fulfilling “a function comparable to that of the ison in Byzantine church music, a repeated note which does not change pitch.”

On an ECM records leaflet, Pärt wrote that the Te Deum text has “immutable truths,” reminding him of the “immeasurable serenity imparted by a mountain panorama.” His composition sought to communicate a mood “that could be infinite in time—out of the flow of infinity. I had to draw this music gently out of silence and emptiness.”

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