Arvo Pärt's I Am the True Vine Offers Mystical Music

Disc features performances by Theatre of Voices and Pro Arte Singers.

Arvo Pärt is one of the leading composers (along with John Tavener, Mikolaj Gorecki and others) in what could be called the "neo-mystical" branch of contemporary music.

His latest disc, I Am The True Vine (RealAudio excerpt of title track) on the Harmonia Mundi label, contains some of his finest work, with texts in several languages. The "songs" are performed by the Theatre of Voices, a small ensemble of vocal chamber musicians. Another featured ensemble on the disc is the slightly larger Pro Arte Singers under the direction of Paul Hillier, a longtime friend and interpreter of the composer.

Pärt writes deeply contemplative meditations on otherwordly themes. These pieces are by turns solemn and slow moving, sometimes exultant and conservatively styled.

This music is wildly popular, for reasons that may be guessed after a glance at any morning's headlines: Pärt aurally transports the listener, at least momentarily, out of a world that inspires a longing for escape.