1 800 222 6872

James MacMillan: Tenebrae Responsories / Choir of Westminster Cathedral

Album Summary

>MacMillan, James : Tu es Petrus, hymn for chorus, brass & organ
>Chant, Gregorian : Dignus est agnus, introit in mode 3 for the Feast of Christ the King
>MacMillan, James : Tenebrae Responsories, for chorus
>MacMillan, James : Summae Trinitati, for chorus, brass & organ
>MacMillan, James : Benedictus Deus, motet for chorus
>MacMillan, James : Ave maris stella, hymn for chorus
>MacMillan, James : Tota pulchra es, for chorus & organ
>MacMillan, James : After Virtue, for chorus
>MacMillan, James : Serenity, for chorus & organ
>MacMillan, James : The Edinburgh Te Deum, for tenor, bass, chorus & organ
>MacMillan, James : Ecce sacerdos magnum, antiphon for chorus, 2 trumpets & organ
>MacMillan, James : Processional on Tu es Petrus, for brass ensemble & organ
Performers Conductor Ensembles Composers

Notes & Reviews:

The Westminster Cathedral Choir returns to acclaimed Scottish composer James MacMillan, whose powerful, passionate and luminous music has made him one of the best-loved choral composers of today. Included on this recording is a dramatic setting of the Tenebrae Responsories, a spiritually engaging and emotionally involving work which, in its searing intensity and some of its choral effects, relates back to 1993's Seven Last Words from the Cross, one of MacMillan's seminal earlier works. The choir is joined by London Brass for jubilant settings of Tu es Petrus, Summae Trinitati and Ecce sacerdos magnus.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Westminster Cathedral (2012-03-12_2012-03-13&2012-).



Reviews

Beauty and the Beast
This is my first exposure to the music of James MacMillan, and I'm not sure what to make of it, or him, for that matter. This substantial release of mostly 21st century choral "church" music is one of the most conflicted collections of music I have ever heard. First off, let me make it clear that I am a huge fan and serious collector of modern choral music, so I love music of this genre. Several of the selections here have a lot to offer in the way of beauty, effect, and meaningful expression, while others, to me, would best be left abandoned in a file drawer somewhere. For the most part, Mr. Macmillan has joined the 21st century sound world, thank goodness, but he has done so in his own way. I respect and appreciate that.

The performances here are excellent. At times, the sound seems a bit distant and occasionally overwhelmed by the recording venue, and the child sopranos appear to be somewhat overtaxed at times, but overall, this is some big music, wonderfully presented in a magnificent manner. These folks know what they're doing.

To me, the image of god and faith that Mr. Macmillan conjures up in this music reminds me very much of the same beast that Anton Bruckner described, that is, the image of a frightened child, hiding in his room awaiting the arrival of his angry, drunken, and abusive father. Anger and fear seem to be the predominant themes to much of this music. This is not so with most works of 21st century choral music, which seem to emphasize peace, mystery, redemption and reconciliation, but then, obviously, each person carries his own vision of deity and faith, or lack thereof.

The CD opens with a cinematic bang - quite impressive - though I almost expect the chariots of Ben Hur to come rolling into my living room at any moment. I first listened to the title tracks 3-5, Tenebrae Responsories, without consulting the libretto/liturgy. It all struck me as a child's unanswered cries of terror from the battered ramparts of some post-apocalyptic hell-scape. What the .... , I asked, but when I read the liturgy, I discovered that Macmillan had hit its meaning right on target with his music. In track#9, Tota pulchra es, the music and words are completely at odds with each other, almost to a perverse degree. This piece doesn't sound like the love and admiration of anyone. Indeed, it sounds as though Mr. Macmillan loathes the Virgin Mary. Track # 10, After Virtue, comes across as an angry, drunken shouting match, almost monstrously horrible. And there's certainly nothing serene about track 11, Serenity; to me, it comes across as just another pointless display of fear and anger. The final 3 tracks, including the substantial Te Deum from 1978 are quite expressive and enjoyable, though they still seem mainly to emphasize aspects of the same angry God to be feared. During the final track, which I find quite fitting and enjoyable, the chariots leave the stadium.

Despite my somewhat ruthless criticisms, I do recommend this collection, though I would give short shrift to tracks 9-11. A good portion of this music is lovely, interesting, different and worthy of admiration. Mr. Macmillan presents "his case" forcefully and with devotion, and there are numerous beautiful, effective and meaningful musical offerings to be enjoyed here. One thing is certain: Mr Macmillan offers a different outlook and/or philosophy in his 21st century "church" music than do his peers, and there's certainly room for that in my mind.
See your review on the site

Submitted on 07/20/13 by Nicolo 
Login or Create an Account to write a review
 

Also Purchased

Works Details

>MacMillan, James : Tu es Petrus, hymn for chorus, brass & organ
  • Performer: Peter Stevens (Organ)
  • Conductor: Martin Baker
  • Ensemble: London Brass
  • Notes: Westminster Cathedral (2012-03-12_2012-03-13&2012-)
  • Running Time: 4 min. 12 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2010

>Chant, Gregorian : Dignus est agnus, introit in mode 3 for the Feast of Christ the King
  • Performer: Peter Stevens (Organ)
  • Conductor: Martin Baker
  • Notes: Westminster Cathedral (2012-03-12_2012-03-13&2012-)
  • Running Time: 4 min. 4 sec.
  • Period Time: Medieval
  • Form: Choral

>MacMillan, James : Tenebrae Responsories, for chorus
  • Conductor: Martin Baker
  • Notes: Westminster Cathedral (2012-03-12_2012-03-13&2012-)
  • Running Time: 20 min. 3 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary

>MacMillan, James : Summae Trinitati, for chorus, brass & organ
  • Performer: Peter Stevens (Organ)
  • Conductor: Martin Baker
  • Notes: Westminster Cathedral (2012-03-12_2012-03-13&2012-)
  • Running Time: 4 min. 54 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2009

>MacMillan, James : Benedictus Deus, motet for chorus
  • Conductor: Martin Baker
  • Notes: Westminster Cathedral (2012-03-12_2012-03-13&2012-)
  • Running Time: 5 min. 27 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2009

>MacMillan, James : Ave maris stella, hymn for chorus
  • Conductor: Martin Baker
  • Notes: Westminster Cathedral (2012-03-12_2012-03-13&2012-)
  • Running Time: 4 min. 27 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2011

>MacMillan, James : Tota pulchra es, for chorus & organ
  • Performer: Peter Stevens (Organ)
  • Conductor: Martin Baker
  • Notes: Westminster Cathedral (2012-03-12_2012-03-13&2012-)
  • Running Time: 4 min. 32 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary

>MacMillan, James : After Virtue, for chorus
  • Conductor: Martin Baker
  • Notes: Westminster Cathedral (2012-03-12_2012-03-13&2012-)
  • Running Time: 4 min. 59 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2006

>MacMillan, James : Serenity, for chorus & organ
  • Performer: Peter Stevens (Organ)
  • Conductor: Martin Baker
  • Notes: Westminster Cathedral (2012-03-12_2012-03-13&2012-)
  • Running Time: 4 min. 46 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2009

>MacMillan, James : The Edinburgh Te Deum, for tenor, bass, chorus & organ
  • Performers: William Gaunt (Bass); David Knight; Peter Stevens (Organ)
  • Conductor: Martin Baker
  • Notes: Westminster Cathedral (2012-03-12_2012-03-13&2012-)
  • Running Time: 9 min. 16 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 1978

>MacMillan, James : Ecce sacerdos magnum, antiphon for chorus, 2 trumpets & organ
  • Performers: Andrew Crowley (Trumpet); Daniel Newell (Trumpet); Peter Stevens (Organ)
  • Conductor: Martin Baker
  • Notes: Westminster Cathedral (2012-03-12_2012-03-13&2012-)
  • Running Time: 3 min. 28 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2011

>MacMillan, James : Processional on Tu es Petrus, for brass ensemble & organ
  • Performer: Peter Stevens (Organ)
  • Conductor: Martin Baker
  • Notes: Westminster Cathedral (2012-03-12_2012-03-13&2012-)
  • Running Time: 2 min. 2 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2010