About this work
Pärt wrote this transitional work in 1971, just before a compositional silence of nearly six years from which he emerged with his minimalist-oriented "tintinnabulation" technique, for which he remains best known. In the Symphony No. 3 Pärt rejected the serialist idiom he had pioneered in his Estonian homeland, and turned to a dense, eclectic sound influenced by his study of early music: chant, Machaut, and the Flemish composers of the Renaissance. The work has echoes of everything from Russian Orthodox chant (clearly anticipating the direction in which Pärt would go) to the big string sound of Hovhaness. The composer has called this "a joyous work" that nevertheless was not "the end of my despair and search." The work may not satisfy fans of Pärt's pure, transparent mature language, but for those who wonder about the road he took to get there, it makes fascinating listening.