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Arvo Pärt: Cantique des degrés

  • for mixed choir and orchestra
  • 2 2 2 2 - 4 2 2 1 - timp, perc, str
  • Duration: 7’
  • Instrumentation details:
    1st flute
    2nd flute
    1st oboe
    2nd oboe
    1st clarinet in Bb
    2nd clarinet in Bb
    1st bassoon
    2nd bassoon
    1st horn in F
    2nd horn in F
    3rd horn in F
    4th horn in F
    1st trumpet in C
    2nd trumpet in C
    1st trombone
    2nd trombone
    tuba
    timpani
    percussion
    violin I
    violin II
    viola
    violoncello
    contrabass
  • Choir: SATB
  • Composer: Arvo Pärt
  • Dedication: À Son Altesse Sérénissime le Prince Rainier III de Monaco
  • Commission: Œuvre commandée par S.A.R. la Princesse de Hanovre à l'occasion de la Célébration du 50ème Anniversaire de Règne de S.A.S. le Prince Souverain Rainier III de Monaco, créée le 19 novembre 1999, lors de la Messe d'Action de Grâce à la Cathédrale de Monaco

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Work introduction

Following an initiative by Princess Caroline of Monaco/Hannover to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the reign of his Highness, Prince Rainier III of Monaco, composer Arvo Pärt was commissioned to compose a work for choir and orchestra. The finished work, Cantique des degrés, received its premiere on 19 November 1999 during a special service in the Cathedral of Monte-Carlo in the presence of the royal family. It was performed by the Orchestre Philharmonique and the opera choir, both of Monte-Carlo, and conducted by Estonian conductor Tõnu Kaljuste. 

Cantique des degrés is based on Psalm 121 - Je lève mes yeux vers la montagne - and sung in Latin. Pärt's setting comprises eight sung verses of the psalm that lead  to a final, hymn-like instrumental coda.

The tonalities of the composition progress regularly, ascending stepwise from verse to verse ("cantique des degrés"); but despite this episodic character, the overall mood of the sequences remains consistent. In this way, the two contrasting basic elements of the piece – dynamic motion and balanced repose – are united creating a harmonious whole.

Audiosamples

The complete perusal score (PDF-preview)

World première

Location:
Cathedral, Monaco (MC)
Date:
19.11.1999
Orchestra:
Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte Carlo
Conductor:
Tõnu Kaljuste

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