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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

Even devotees of classical music can have trouble warming up to the sounds of contemporary classical. But Estonian-born composer Arvo Part has tried to develop a contemporary style that is more accessible to the average listener. Now in his 70s, Part has a new album called "In Principio."

Our classical music critic Tom Manoff thinks this release has staying power.

(Soundbite of song "Cecilia, Vergine Romana")

TOM MANOFF: "Cecilia, Vergine Romana," one of six works on the album, recounts the story of St. Cecilia, the patron saint of music, martyred for her faith and remembered for hearing heavenly music in her heart.

(Soundbite of song "Cecilia, Vergine Romana")

MANOFF: At first, the music seems traditional, something that might have been composed in a past musical age. What happens later in the piece shows an important aspect of Arvo Part's craft. He turns these traditional melodies in on themselves, resulting in something new, something distinctly modern.

(Soundbite of song "Cecilia, Vergine Romana")

MANOFF: The composer shows another technique in a work called "Mein Weg" or my path. Constant repetition of a few musical ideas evolve gradually and create a fascinating and hypnotic web.

(Soundbite of song "Mein Weg")

MANOFF: The music on this album is often stark as majestic drama but also tender in the portrayal of the human condition. I don't use the word masterpiece casually, but I think you'll hear a few on this CD. I believe also that several of these works will enter the concert repertory rather quickly and will be around for a long time.

(Soundbite of song "Mein Weg")

BLOCK: Our critic is Tom Manoff. He reviewed "In Principio" by composer Arvo Part.

(Soundbite of song "Mein Weg")

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