, January 2005
De Profundis, Summa. Davies, Stuttgart RSO, Hilliard Ensemble ECM 831959
When the Hilliard Ensemble perform Pärt they manage to imbue each single note with a special intensity and build the whole toward a radiant climax. Alex Ross writing in, of course, New Yorker, reported on a Berlin performance of this Berliner Mass in the presence of the composer; a performance that was rivetingly exciting every moment. That is not quite what we have here, but what we do have is still top drawer. Here the performers go more for serene reverence than for anguish or excitement. The Cantate Domino is sprightly, invoking a British medieval kind of joy. The Beatitudes (to an English text) conclude with a series of big organ chords with deep pedal notes that come through clearly only on the DVD-Audio tracks and the dts tracks, but not so well on the AC-3 tracks. The De Profundis appropriately enough features the chorus basses with deep organ notes, bells, and gong which, again, come through best on the DVD-Audio tracks and dts tracks.
The rear channel tracks are very low in volume so this is a dry, front-balanced surround sound recording with little sense of space. The choruss sibilants resonate slightly but do not echo in the space of the church."