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Macmillan: Mass & Other Sacred Music / Baker, Reid, Et Al


Release Date: 05/08/2001 
Label:  Hyperion   Catalog #: 67219   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  James MacMillan
Performer:  Andrew Reid
Conductor:  Martin Baker
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Westminster Cathedral Choir
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 6 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

James MacMillan is a man of conviction, and his most constantly felt musical message is his Catholicism. The liner-note writer claims that MacMillan "knows that his background will divide [listeners], and that while some will be drawn closer, others will be pushed away by the religious underpinning of so much of his choral work." (Well, anyone who's unhinged by religious elements in choral music doesn't have much choral listening to do!) While the Scottish composer is best known for instrumental compositions such as the terrific percussion concerto Veni Veni Emmanuel (with all the intended religious implications that such a title carries), here's a full disc of music that elucidates and amplifies his beliefs--music, as finely Read more crafted and satisfying as it is, that comes across as more of a vehicle for the texts than as a destination in its own right. His values are declaimed in gorgeous musical settings--mostly choral, although the Messiaenic organ solo Gaudeamus in loci pace pops up as well.


The centerpiece here is the Mass, commissioned "for the Glory of God in the Millennium Year of Jubilee", that recalls shades of Britten and was written for this choir. It's unarguably a modern work, full of unresolved dissonances, but MacMillan's interest lies in forging another generational link in the chain of Western religious choral tradition that stretches back over centuries.


As a group, the Westminster Choir is splendid and precise, but some of the individual performances are better than others. While boy chorister David de Winter's ethereal voice floats over the end of Christus vincit, the countertenors of Seinte Mari moder milde get a little hooty. (In the age of supremely accomplished countertenors such as David Daniels, haven't we gotten past all that?) But those few uneasy moments are washed away in an otherwise glorious turnout. The sound is quite rich, as befits this cathedral's space, and the balance between organ and choir is even. If you don't know MacMillan, this would make for a very fine introduction.
--Anastasia Tsioulcas, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

1. Christus vincit by James MacMillan
Conductor:  Martin Baker
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Westminster Cathedral Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1994; England 
Language: Latin 
2. Mass by James MacMillan
Performer:  Andrew Reid (Organ)
Conductor:  Martin Baker
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Westminster Cathedral Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 2000; England 
Language: English 
3. A Child's Prayer by James MacMillan
Conductor:  Martin Baker
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Westminster Cathedral Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1996; Scotland 
Language: English 
4. Gaudeamus in loci pace by James MacMillan
Performer:  Andrew Reid (Organ)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1998; Scotland 
5. Changed by James MacMillan
Performer:  Andrew Reid (Organ)
Conductor:  Martin Baker
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Westminster Cathedral Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1997; Scotland 
Language: English 
6. A New Song by James MacMillan
Performer:  Andrew Reid (Organ)
Conductor:  Martin Baker
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Westminster Cathedral Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1997; Scotland 
Language: English 
7. Seinte Mari moder milde by James MacMillan
Performer:  Andrew Reid (Organ)
Conductor:  Martin Baker
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Westminster Cathedral Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1995; Scotland 
Language: Scottish 
Notes: This selection includes Latin text. 

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