Gramophone, Editor’s Choice
BBC Music Magazine, Orchestral Choice
This 35-minute symphony is a work of wonder, and Salonen’s radiant performance makes deep awe and surface beauty non-contradictory.
Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times
Since No 3 he has developed a vocabulary of a singular intensity and cohesion, which is something he was grasping for… That vocabulary has been established by means of an extended series of choral works, linked ever more clearly with his Orthodox faith but employing an ever-expanding range of musical and linguistic colour. … It is important precisely to emphasise the astonishing feeling for that very continuity that the LAPO under Salonen clearly has. The sheer beauty of the sound – and the silence – also does not escape them… Repeated listening brings great rewards: this is a true symphony for the 21st century.
Ivan Moody, Gramophone
In his ability to make even the most cataclysmic sonic moments intensely personal and introspective, Pärt perhaps stands alone. The expansiveness of the entire symphony is almost Brucknerian, slow to unveil itself. … Pärt’s Fourth Symphony makes for one of the year’s most compelling releases.
DA, Time out Chicago
The symphony’s three slow movements are scored for strings, harp and percussion. Pärt is one of the very few composers who can draw such richness from spare materials, or use percussion with such subtlety. In this symphony he questions the music’s harmonic stability with suspensions and creates tension in the finale by splitting the orchestra between A minor and A major.
Barry Witherden, BBC Music Magazine
His music, whether setting sacred texts or the occasional instrumental work, projects a personal and individual majesty, mystery, and longing for the divine. The plangent sonorities, achingly beautiful structures that seek and attain seraphic calm are like stained-glass windows in the vault of heaven, glowing with the light of a timeless realm beyond this earthly world. Yet he achieves this with notable simplicity of means. As you’d expect, tempos are unhurried, the mood often contemplative, rapt, inward, though all three movements have powerful declamatory outbursts as well as halting, tentative, strophiclike refrains interrupted by impassioned pleading. Serene acceptance, for Pärt as for Bruckner, is a long-sought-for goal only achieved after long and difficult journeying. Indeed, in this symphony the finale, though beginning in mournful tranquility, eventuates in a brusque but ghostly march that strides weirdly up into the strings highest register in an ascension that feels almost as enigmatic and even minatory as consoling or triumphant.
Lehman, American record guide
Scored for strings, harp, timpani, and percussion, the work is in Pärt’s familiar “holy minimalist” style: at once dramatically charged and blissfully static.