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James MacMillan

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Maciek:
Following Colin's hint on WAYLT...

I love the few MacMillan pieces I've heard (Cello Sonata, for example). And none of those are choral. :o ;D

Brewski:
I've heard a number of works by MacMillan over the last say, 4-5 years, and have become a pretty big fan of his work.  Some of my favorite recordings (below) are A Scotch Bestiary, a wild concerto for organ and orchestra written to inaugurate the new pipe organ at Disney Concert Hall, and Epiclesis, his trumpet concerto. 

His choral pieces are very intense: parts of his Te Deum might actually frighten some listeners, with its huge organ outbursts.  And I also like his Magnificat and Nunc dimittis (on the CD with The Birds of Rhiannon, below), and his lovely setting of Robert Burns's The Gallant Weaver.

But if I were to point to a piece to start with, it might be his percussion concerto, Veni Veni Emmanuel, written for Evelyn Glennie.  Marvelous.

--Bruce

Dundonnell:
 Oh...so soon ;D

I had intended to start a thread on MacMillan for some time but have been busy on another mammoth thread(to be unveiled very shortly!).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_MacMillan_(musician)

This article gives some idea of MacMillan's work for those who don't know, although I get the impression that it has spread at least as far as the USA now. MacMillan is a very important and vocal figure in Scottish musical life and a controversial figure too. He is a devout Roman Catholic and his faith underpins much of his writing. He is also not afraid to raise and confront what he perceives as the religious sectarianism which is still rife in parts of Scotland, particularly the West where he comes from. MacMillan- in common with a number of other Scottish artistic figures-is not afraid to condemn aspects of Scottish political and social 'culture' through both articles in the press and his compositions('A Scotch Bestiary' for organ and orchestra). He shares a compassion for the underdog and the oppressed with other Catholic Socialists.

MacMillan has been fortunate in attracting the attention of commissioning bodies and record companies; most of his major works are now available on CD(BIS and Chandos). Not all of MacMillan's compositions totally convince me but there is undoubtedly a passion behind MacMillan and an inventiveness which is increasingly impressing audiences. He can communicate in a way that few other contemporary composers can. Nor is he afraid to write on a massive scale with an obvious command of the resources of a full orchestra or a big choir(MacMillan is a fine conductor of his own music).There is often a fair measure of anger in the music and it is not always comfortable listening. There are passages in MacMillan which remind me of the great American Charles Ives.

The breakthrough works by MacMillan were 'The Confession of Isobel Gowdie'(a Catholic martyr during the Scottish Reformation) and the virtuoso percussion concerto 'Veni, veni, Emmanuel' but his big choral works-the recently recorded Oratorio "The Quickening"(Chandos) and "The St.John Passion"(LSO Live) are, in my opinion, his best works.

Those who are in any way repelled by the overt religiosity of MacMillan's compositions may still appreciate the quality of his music but will not-I venture to suggest-understand fully the force of his inspiration. I have collected most of his orchestral and choral compositions-partly (I suppose) because he is a Scottish composer of great substance but also because, although I am sometimes 'battered and bemused' by MacMillan, I admire and respect the blazing integrity of a relatively young modern composer who can write with such orchestral and choral colour and dramatic purpose and power.

Dundonnell:
Bruce...you posted while I was writing ;D

I do agree with you though :)

MacMillan's music is very 'intense' and-at times-'frightening' but never less than interesting :)

Brewski:

--- Quote from: Dundonnell on February 06, 2009, 02:28:08 PM ---I have collected most of his orchestral and choral compositions-partly (I suppose) because he is a Scottish composer of great substance but also because, although I am sometimes 'battered and bemused' by MacMillan, I admire and respect the blazing integrity of a relatively young modern composer who can write with such orchestral and choral colour and dramatic purpose and power.

--- End quote ---


--- Quote from: Dundonnell on February 06, 2009, 02:31:56 PM ---Bruce...you posted while I was writing ;D

--- End quote ---

 ;D

Well, "great minds"...

Anyway, totally agree with your longer post, especially with the paragraph quoted above. 

--Bruce

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