Welcome to Hyperion Records, an independent British classical label devoted to presenting high-quality recordings of music of all styles and from all periods from the twelfth century to the twenty-first.

Hyperion offers both CDs, and downloads in a number of formats. The site is also available in several languages.

Please use the dropdown buttons to set your preferred options, or use the checkbox to accept the defaults.

Click cover art to view larger version
Track(s) taken from CDA67375


author of text
Orthodox Prayer Book

Polyphony, Stephen Layton (conductor)
Recording details: January 2003
Temple Church, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Julian Millard
Release date: September 2003
Total duration: 14 minutes 13 seconds

Other recordings available for download

The Tallis Scholars, Peter Phillips (conductor)


‘A triumph … warm melodies and bursts of colourful chords … sublime, ethereal beauty … Polyphony's is a gorgeous performance’ (Gramophone)

‘The singing on this disc is little short of stunning: Polyphony's sense of ensemble is second to none, and conductor Stephen Layton paces these works with an unerring sense of Pärt's instinctive feeling for space and texture. The recording, in London's Temple Church, adds a luminuous aura of its own … a deeply satisfying listening experience’ (The Daily Telegraph)

‘Layton's superb choir responds eagerly to the different challenges of the various choral traditions from which these pieces derive … Polyphony give meticulous performances … perhaps the most powerful piece is the haunting Burns setting for countertenor, My heart's in the highlands, beautifully performed by David James and Christopher Bowers-Broadbent’ (The Sunday Times)

‘The heartfelt conviction of these pieces registers profoundly with Stephen Layton, who draws sublime singing from Polyphony … the choir's pursuit of perfection ideally complements the sheer beauty of the music’ (Classic FM Magazine)

‘This Polyphony recital has been carefully thought-out, and deserves the accolades, notably for the quiet singing and the engulfing, resonant sound. Notes are excellent, and the experience would probably, for 78 minutes, make a believer of an asteroid’ (Fanfare, USA)

‘Only the most pure and precise of choral groups can raise Arvo Pärt's work to its optimum level of expression. Polyphony and its conductor Stephen Layton make ideal interpreters’ (Financial Times)

‘There's a line in this disc's title track, from an Orthodox ode addressed to Saint Nicholas: "therewithal hast thou acquired: by humility—greatness, by poverty—riches". This might have been written about Arvo Pärt's compositional technique, here liberated from the minimalist strictures of earlier decades, treading a fine line between agony and ecstasy in a way unparalleled since Bach … Arvo Pärt's new disc of choral music conveys a quiet and cumulative power, given performances of luminous purity by Polyphony and Stephen Layton’ (BBCi)
In 1976 Pärt responded to the death of Benjamin Britten (whom he never met) with the composition of one of his most powerful—and disarmingly simple—works, the Cantus in memoriam Benjamin Britten for strings and tubular bell. Twenty-two years later, he was able to come close to Britten again through a commission from Lancing College to mark their 150th anniversary. Not only was Britten’s partner Peter Pears an alumnus of this Sussex school; Britten had also written the Christmas cantata St Nicolas for the 100th anniversary, back in 1948. St Nicolas is a patron saint of Lancing, and so Pärt sought a further connection for his commission. He selected three Odes from the Orthodox Prayer Book—one to ‘Jesus the Son of God’, one to the ‘Most Holy Birth-giver of God’, and the last to the ‘Holy Saint Nicholas’ (Britten’s titular Saint lacks the ‘h’).

Each Ode is characteristically solemn, each is statically homophonic, and each builds to a climax prior to the mantra-like repetition of the final entreaty. All is stripped bare at this point: harmonic movement halts, silence becomes as important as sound, and centuries of mysticism are rolled back as Pärt communes with an ancient Orthodox past.

from notes by Meurig Bowen © 2003

En 1976, Pärt répondait à la mort de Benjamin Britten (qu’il n’avait jamais rencontré) en composant une de ses partitions les plus puissances—et d’une simplicité désarçonnante—le Cantus in memoriam Benjamin Britten pour cordes et cloche tubulaire. Vingt-deux ans plus tard, il put de nouveau se rapprocher de Britten à travers la commande du Lancing College pour célébrer leur 150e anniversaire. Non seulement le compagnon de Britten, Peter Pears, avait fait ses études dans cette école du Sussex, mais Britten avait écrit la cantate de Noël, St Nicolas, pour leur 100e anniversaire, en 1948. Il sélectionna trois Odes du Livre de prières orthodoxe—l’une pour «Jésus, fils de dieu», l’autre «la plus sainte mère de Dieu» et le dernier pour le «Saint Nicholas» (chez Britten, le «h» est omis).

Chaque ode se caractérisée par sa solennité, son homophonie statique et chacune élabore un apogée avant d’aborder les répétitions aux allures de mantra de la dernière entrée. A cet endroit, tout est mis à nu: le mouvement harmonique s’arrête, le silence devient aussi important que le son, et des siècles de mysticisme se déroulent sous nos yeux alors que Pärt entre en communion avec l’ancien passé orthodoxe.

extrait des notes rédigées par Meurig Bowen © 2003
Français: Isabelle Battioni

1976 reagierte Pärt auf den Tod von Benjamin Britten (den er niemals persönlich kennen gelernt hatte) mit der Komposition eines seiner beeindruckendsten—und betörend einfachsten—Werke, das Cantus in memoriam Benjamin Britten für Streicher und Röhrenglocken. 22 Jahre später war er aufgrund eines Auftrags des Lancing College zur 150. Jahrfeier seines Bestehens in der Lage, sich Britten wieder zu nähern. Nicht nur war Brittens Lebenspartner Peter Pears ein ehemaliger Schüler dieses College in Sussex, sondern Britten selber hatte schon im Jahre 1948 für den 100. Jahrestag des College die Weihnachtskantate St Nicolas komponiert (im Titel von Brittens Kantate fehlt das in der englischen Schreibweise des Heiligen sonst übliche H [Nicholas]). Der Heilige Nikolaus ist der Schutzheilige des Lancing College, und so suchte Pärt für seinen Auftrag nach einer weiteren Verbindung. Er wählte drei Oden aus dem Orthodoxen Gebetbuch aus—eine zu „Jesus, der Sohn Gottes“, eine zu„Mehr als alle geheiligte Mutter Gottes“ und die letzte zu „Der Heilige Nikolaus“.

Jede Ode ist entsprechend feierlich, jede ist statisch homophon und jede schwingt sich vor der Mantra-artigen Wiederholung der letzten Bitte zu einem Höhepunkt auf. Alles ist an diesem Punkt völlig entblößt: die harmonische Bewegung stoppt, die Stille erscheint so wichtig wie der Klang, und Jahrhunderte des Mystizismus werden aufgerollt, wenn Pärt mit einer tiefen Vergangenheit der orthodoxen Kirche in Verbindung tritt.

aus dem Begleittext von Meurig Bowen © 2003
Deutsch: Elke Hockings

Other albums featuring this work

Pärt: Tintinnabuli
Studio Master: CDGIM049Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Pärt: Triodion & other choral works
This album is not yet available for downloadSACDA67375Super-Audio CD — Deleted
Waiting for content to load...
Waiting for content to load...