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At first blush, Schnittke and Pärt make for improbable bedfellows, but these magnificent performances bring out an often overlooked spiritual depth in the one and a sinewy toughness of conception in the other. The careers of both men help bring to life the gradual re-emergence of religion in Russian and Baltic public life, and all three pieces date from the final Soviet meltdown and after. Schnittke’s texts are not liturgical, but of ancient provenance and sung with extraordinary focus and presence by the Tallinn-based choir. The Super-Audio recording is rich and multi-dimensional, even on a conventional machine. It’s rare that a single performance prompts a wholesale reconsideration of a composer’s entire oeuvre, but Schnittke scholars will listen to this one very carefully indeed.

BRIAN MORTON Read the full review on Agora Classica

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