James Macmillan: Birds of Rhiannon / Macmillan, BBC Singers

> Magnificat - Magnificat
> Nunc dimittis - Nunc dimittis
> Exsultet - Exsultet
> Mairi - Mairi
> The Gallant Weaver - The Gallant Weaver
> The Birds of Rhiannon - Largo - Andante - Tempo di reel - Allegro - Presto —
> The Birds of Rhiannon - quarter note = c. 60-63 —
> The Birds of Rhiannon - Andante —
> The Birds of Rhiannon - Tempo I [Largo] —
> The Birds of Rhiannon - Hauls, Hauls of fish (Chorus)

Album Summary

>MacMillan, James : Magnificat, for chorus & orchestra
>MacMillan, James : Nunc dimittis, for chorus & orchestra
>MacMillan, James : Exsultet, symphonic fanfare (2 versions)
>MacMillan, James : Mairi, for a cappella chorus
>MacMillan, James : The Gallant Weaver, for a cappella chorus
>MacMillan, James : The Birds of Rhiannon, dramatic concerto for orchestra with a mystical coda for choir
Performers Conductor Ensembles Composer

Notes & Reviews:

This new CD contains premiere recordings of James MacMillan's music for chorus and orchestra. The 'Birds of Rhiannon' defies easy classification. MacMillan calls it a 'dramatic concerto for orchestra with a mystical coda for choir'. MacMillan draws on an ancient Welsh legend, found in the great mediaeval verse anthology The Mabinogion. All works on the disc are conducted by the composer.

Gramophone Classical Music Guide
MacMillan's colours can be garish, his gestures histrionic, but his is an art of passion and commitment: these are the effects of a composer seeking to make you feel and react strongly as well as think deeply. His admixture of Celtic cultural nationalism, leftist politics and Catholicism may be too rich for the blood of some 21st century connoisseurs, but it provides affecting and memorable listening experiences. This CD resolutely demonstrates the point.

The setting of Burns's Gallant Weaver (1997) is MacMillan at his gentlest and most intimate, but this only softens you up for Rhiannon (2001), inspired by a tale from the Mabinogion, an ancient Welsh collection. The Times described its Proms premiere as unwieldy and florid with overworked and impoverished motifs. Maybe the performance has since been refined: here it sounds polymorphous and full of incident. More importantly, there's a cogent musical argument, even if not of the most sophisticated or subtle kind.

The Magnificat, a BBC Millennium commission heard here in the version for choir and orchestra, still includes an organ part which powers the violent ensemble interjections in the closing minutes.

He's already handsomely represented on disc, but this is as good an introduction as you'll get.



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Works Details

>MacMillan, James : Magnificat, for chorus & orchestra
  • Conductor: James MacMillan
  • Ensemble: BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Notes: Studio 7, New Broadcasting House, Manchester, England (11/13/2001-11/14/2001)
  • Running Time: 13 min. 20 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 1999

>MacMillan, James : Nunc dimittis, for chorus & orchestra
  • Conductor: James MacMillan
  • Ensemble: BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Notes: Studio 7, New Broadcasting House, Manchester, England (11/13/2001-11/14/2001)
  • Running Time: 7 min. 29 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2000

>MacMillan, James : Exsultet, symphonic fanfare (2 versions)
  • Performer: Jonathan Scott (Organ)
  • Conductor: James MacMillan
  • Ensemble: BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Notes: Studio 7, New Broadcasting House, Manchester, England (11/13/2001-11/14/2001)
  • Running Time: 8 min. 20 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 1998-2000

>MacMillan, James : Màiri, for a cappella chorus
  • Performers: David Roy (Tenor); Geoffrey Davidson; Richard Bourne; Elizabeth Poole (Soprano); Eleanor Meynell (Soprano); Neil MacKenzie (Tenor); Andrew Murgatroyd (Tenor); Robert Johnston (Tenor); Karen Woodhouse (Soprano); Simon Birchall; Margaret Feaviour (Soprano); Stephen Charlesworth (Baritone)
  • Conductor: James MacMillan
  • Ensemble: BBC Singers
  • Notes: Studio 7, New Broadcasting House, Manchester, England (11/13/2001-11/14/2001)
  • Running Time: 10 min. 15 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 1997

>MacMillan, James : The Gallant Weaver, for a cappella chorus
  • Performers: Margaret Feaviour (Soprano); Micaela Haslam (Soprano)
  • Conductor: James MacMillan
  • Ensemble: BBC Singers
  • Notes: Studio 7, New Broadcasting House, Manchester, England (11/13/2001-11/14/2001)
  • Running Time: 6 min. 48 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 1997

>MacMillan, James : The Birds of Rhiannon, dramatic concerto for orchestra with a mystical coda for choir
  • Conductor: James MacMillan
  • Ensemble: BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Notes: Studio 7, New Broadcasting House, Manchester, England (11/13/2001-11/14/2001)
  • Running Time: 7 min. 18 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2001