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Like Arvo Pärt and others who witnessed the unravelling of Sovietism, Alexander Knaifel transitioned from hard-nosed avant-gardism to a particularly mysterious brand of what some still call ‘faith minimalism’. In Knaifel’s case, one is never quite sure where the music is going or whether it intends to go anywhere at all. It is not a coincidence that one of his main inspirations is Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. One of those pieces, A mad tea-party, a piano piece given in its ‘royal’ version, sits here alongside the choral prayer O Comforter, which is delivered with deceptive clarity by Lege Artis, its humble plea given a faintly surreal edge by the singers. O Heavenly King, the other choral work included, is more straightforward, but only straightforward in Knaifel terms. A typical ECM recording, deliberately eclectic, even to the point of perversity, but appropriate in this case; and, of course, immaculately recorded.

BRIAN MORTON Read the full review on Agora Classica


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