PÄRT: Stabat Mater; IVAN MOODY: Simeron – Goeyvaerts String Trio: Kristien Roels (violin)/ Kris Matthynssens (viola)/ Pieter Stas (cello)/ Zsuzsi Tóth (sop.)/ Barnabás Hegyi (countertenor)/ Olivier Berten (tenor) – Challenge Classics CD CC72616, 53:04 [Distr. by Allegro] (6/10/14) ****:

This is a unique CD that comes to us via a Kickstarter Campaign from Challenge Classics, a company in the Netherlands that often releases works that are unlikely to get recorded and are often outside the musical mainstream.

The recording features the Pärt Stabat Mater complemented by the specially-composed piece from Ivan Moody, Simeron. The Goeyvaerts String Trio collaborates with the best vocalists of Vox Luminis.

Using the technique of so-called “just intonation” in both works, the trio creates sounds which lay on each other. This particular way of playing is designed to resonate with one’s feelings. Pure intonation is an early form of tuning. Intervals are distributed unevenly but purely across the octave. Just intonation is said to sound calmer, and even a bit more sorrowful, to the contemporary ear.

Both Pärt and Moody turned to Orthodox Christianity at some point in their lives, and this music is deeply introspective and emotional.

The Goeyvaerts String Trio is an extraordinary Belgian ensemble known for their trademark perfectionism in every detail and highly-acclaimed performances. That’s certainly what I hear in this recording. The Pärt and the Moody are quite complimentary in their sound and emotional content and are excellent partners for this recording.

The recording of this small ensemble is exemplary. It would have been well-served with a higher resolution SACD but the CD sound is thrilling. I listened in normal stereo, and then tried in pseudo-multichannel using Dolby Pro-Logic on my pre-amp and the sound opened up considerably. This is also an exceptional experience on headphones.

With more and more companies cutting back on their classical projects, it is very encouraging to see Challenge Classics get public funding for this important CD.

This is a wonderful performance and recording. Listeners who connect with the somberness and spirituality of Pärt will feel right at home.  Highly recommended!

—Mel Martin