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Published on Nov 7, 2013
In L'Abbé Agathon (2004), Pärt created a text inspired by a legend from 4th century Christian monasticism. The story tells of the meeting between the hermit Agathon, on his way to market, and a leper, who asks to be taken along. As they walk, Agathon is tested several times by the leper. Not until after he has passed these tests does the leper reveal himself as an angel sent by God, who blesses Agathon. Pärt's composition sets the French text syllabically, in a simple and direct style. In the concert tonight, soprano Shannon Mercer is the storyteller. The slowly pulsing chords of the accompaniment depict, among other things the steps of the abbot's and the leper's journey. Finally, at the moment of the angel's revelation, Pärt gives the soprano an ecstatic melody.