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MacMillan: St John Passion / Davis, Maltman, London SO, et al

Album Summary

>MacMillan, James : St John Passion, for baritone, chorus & orchestra
Performer Conductor Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

"James MacMillan's compositions must be among the most frequently performed works of all living composers and with the release of this live recording of his new 'St John Passion', it is not hard to see why. Sir Colin Davis, who has recently recorded other Macmillan works, chose him when he was offered the opportunity of a commission to celebrate his 80th birthday and consequently, this new Passion setting is dedicated to Sir Colin Davis and amounts to quite a big birthday present... There are, of course, no comparisons to be made with other recordings yet but I cannot imagine that there could be any significant improvements on Sir Colin Davis' interpretation." -MusicalCriticism.com

Gramophone Magazine
In the central role Christopher Maltman gives one of his finest performances to date, sonorous, assuredà and reassuringly firm of tone. The choral and orchestral contributions are likewise beyond reproach, with the superb LSO brass in particular totally unfazed by MacMillan's at times scarily vertiginous demands.

Gramophone Classical Music Guide
An 80th-birthday gift for Sir Colin Davis, James MacMillan's 90-minute setting of the St JohnPassion divides into two parts and is cast in 10 movements, the last of which comprises a deeply affecting and cathartic orchestral elegy (described by the composer as 'a song without words'). A baritone is allotted the sole principal part of Christus, a chamber choir acts as the Narrator/Evangelist and a large chorus is assigned all other duties. In the booklet Mac- Millan relates how some ideas from his 2007 opera The Sacrifice have found their way into the score. "I was also aware," he continues, "of the paradoxical tension created between the two highly contrasted musical contexts - liturgical chant and music drama." In the central role Christopher Maltman gives one of his finest performances to date, sonorous, assured and reassuringly firm of tone. The choral and orchestral contributions are likewise beyond reproach, with the superb LSO brass in particular totally unfazed by MacMillan's at times scarily vertiginous demands. The microphones convey it all with startling immediacy, although, as is customary from this source, there's precious little in the way of ingratiating glow.

Even after a number of hearings, nagging doubts remain as to whether the work as a whole measures up to the exalted level of inspiration or possesses quite the communicative force of Quickening but it's valuable to have such an imperious realisation of what is a hugely sincere and often gripping narrative. MacMillan's many admirers will deem it an essential acquisition.



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Works Details

>MacMillan, James : St John Passion, for baritone, chorus & orchestra
  • Performer: Christopher Maltman (Baritone)
  • Conductor: Colin Davis
  • Ensemble: London Symphony Orchestra
  • Running Time: 10 min. 20 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Form: Cantata/Oratorio
  • Studio/Live: Live