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August 19, 2005

Prom 45

Highly contrasted vocal music dominated the early and late-night Proms on Wednesday. The chronology went backwards, from Berg's steamy Lulu Suite via Mahler to 12th-century a cappella via Arvo Pärt. The late-night Prom was a guide, homage and progress report on the Estonian composer Pärt, who turns 70 next month. In a programme of Prom premieres, the crack Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir under its chief conductor Paul Hillier did the honours. Pärt's progress can almost be summed up as a move from black and white to colour. Pärt's "An den Wassern zu Babel" (1976) for choir and organ (Christopher Bowers-Broadbent) is mesmeric, repetitious and bleakly coloured. The more recent "Nunc dimittis" (2001) keeps the grail, but "Salve regina" (2002) is technicolour and sugary, austerity virtually abandoned.

Posted by acapnews at August 19, 2005 8:44 PM