Monday, May 05, 2008

Living Music Festival 2008: Friday

National Concert Hall

RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra & RTÉ Philharmonic Choir
Joanna MacGregor (piano)
Tönu Kaljuste (conducting)

The first piece was a non-choral 2003 composition of Pärt's called Lamentate. It was nice enough, but I could not really get much purchase on it. To extend the tactile metaphor, its surface seemed too slippery for me to get to get to grips with, so I cannot really say whether I think it is any good or not, which I suppose must be a criticism of either me or the piece.

After the interval we had the 1990 Berliner Messe. This was a choral & orchestral work, and when you realise that messe is the foreign for mass you get the idea of what they were all singing about here. However, there was no priest on stage, so this was not a real mass. I found this piece pleasant to listen to, as part of my general approval of choral music.

Credo was the last piece, another choral and orchestral piece, originally composed in 1968. I think it might be about Pärt's growing religious sense, or maybe his reacting against that, or something. It seems quite anguished with all its discordant noises and people shouting and stuff – maybe it represents some kind of crisis of faith and so on. But I gather it was an important transitional work for Pärt, representing the beginnings of his moving towards the style of music for which he is best known. I am mad for the discord, so this was my favourite piece of the evening.

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