A profound sense of the sublime infuses the music of both Johann Sebastian Bach and Estonian composer Arvo Pärt. While two centuries divide the composers, the Australian Chamber Orchestra’s elegantly programmed opening tour of 2019 – for which they are joined by the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir – makes a case for their musical and spiritual kinship, the composers’ works interwoven without break over the two halves, conducted by Richard Tognetti.

Arvo Pärt & JS Bach The Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir in the Australian Chamber Orchestra’s  Arvo Pärt & JS Bach. Photo © Maria Boyadgis

The concert opens in semi-darkness, with the 25-strong Estonian choir arrayed at the front of the stage, unspooling the shifting textures of Pärt’s  Da pacem Domine, written in memory of the Madrid train bombings of 2004, the basses primal, almost growling, in the low register and the sopranos luminous. The lights go up on Bach’s  Komm, Jesu,Komm,  BWV229, and the singers scatter to either side of the stage (splitting into the two antiphonal choirs required for the motet) and revealing the small forces of a reduced ACO, who with the choir conjure the hypnotic stillness of the Pärt into the weaving lines...

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