Critic’s Choice

Thu May 21, 2015 at 11:24 am

By Lawrence A. Johnson

Arvo Pärt. Photo: Kaupo Kikkas
Arvo Pärt. Photo: Kaupo Kikkas

Arvo Pärt will turn 80 in September. The Estonian mystic’s music is not quite as widely performed as a decade ago, but his works remain just as distinctive and rewarding in their expressive economy and quiet spiritual power.

There appear to be few local observances planned for the Pärt anniversary. The CSO, unsurprisingly, is not performing a note of Pärt’s music all next season. Let’s hope that some of Chicago’s many choral and chamber groups pick up the slack.

Fortunately, the Chicago Composers Orchestra is marking the occasion in fine style Friday night. The enterprising ensemble will close its season with Pärt’s Symphony No. 4 Los Angeles. The work was commissioned and premiered by Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 2009 and performed by the CSO under Salonen the same year. (Serendipitously, Salonen is in town leading the final week of the CSO’s “Reveries and Passions” festival of French music.)

The CCO program will include three world premieres on the first half: Ghost Self by Brian Baxter, Rest by Brandon Harrington and slow render by Scott Scharf.

Performance time is 8 p.m. Friday at St. James Cathedral.

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