The Rias Chamber Choir wants to create a “moment of calm” with its last concert of the season – a precious and necessary good in these turbulent times. “Music for a while” was what Henry Purcell gave his listeners in times of war. The program is entitled “Transitions” and does not just mean the life changes of the composers Arvo Pärt, Krysztof Penderecki and Alfred Schnittke, who found support in the Christian faith.

Her sacred works are marked by transitions of a different kind, namely between the traditional major-minor tonality and these blurring elements like chromaticism, glissandi and clusters. This places very special demands on the intonation purity of a cappella singing.

But that is apparently a trifle for this always fascinatingly sovereign choir, overwhelming in the beauty of the individual and overall sound. Principal conductor Peter Dijkstra can concentrate entirely on the emotional development of religious feelings.

Arvo Pärt’s “Dopo la vittoria” begins with happily jumping rhythms, a scene between St. Ambrose and Augustine taken from a Russian encyclopedia, which celebrates, among other things, the creation of the hymn “Te Deum”. Chorale-like elements then push themselves between the multi-layered vocal network.

Pärt’s “The Deer’s Cry” is much simpler in texture, playing with spatial sound, and his “Nunc dimittis” is particularly touching, in which floating soprano voices symbolize the “light of enlightenment” in the face of death. Sven-David Sandström sings about “En ny himmel och en ny jord” (A new heaven and a new earth) in high-contrast, dynamic cluster areas, which dissolve in delicate harmonies in Krzysztof Penderecki’s “Agnus Dei”.

Alfred Schnittke layers every imaginable gradation between harmony and dissonance in his “Concerto for Choir”, which, based on the thousand-year-old “Book of Sad Songs” by the Armenian monk Gregor von Narek, explores all facets from anxious guilt to hope for infinite goodness. The second section is particularly impressive, in which the overlaying of the voices, after desperately writhing chromaticism, suggests the ringing of bells and pulls you deep into the maelstrom of a mystical atmosphere.