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Choral Music by James MacMillan

The Elysian Singers/Sam Laughton

Divo Aloysio Sacrum (1991)
The Gallant Weaver (1997)
A Child's Prayer (1996)
Seinte Mari Moder Milde (1995)
Tremunt videntes anzeli (2002)
Cantos Sagrados (1990)
Christus Vincit (1994)
So Deep (1992)

Signum SIGCD507 [63 mins]

James MacMillan is one of the most prolific and successful composers active in UK, and the very success of his major productions has led to inevitable backlash and critical reservations that he seduces his audiences with 'moral' and 'spiritual' themes. He has anticipated this by asserting that composers who write in an ideological vacuum lack personal integrity, a divisive credo with which conductor Sam Laughton opens his appraisal of the works on this CD of mainly religious and quasi-sacred works by The Elysian Singers.

MacMillan's texts are carefully chosen, ranging from an inscription on a church wall, the medieval 'Laudes regiae', a 15th-century hymn 'Aeterne Rex altissime, to poets Robert Burns, Ana Maria Mendoza & Arid Dorfman. MacMillan brings to mind Benjamin Britten as a composer who flourishes in responding to commissions for specific occasions, performers and builodings, and this collection confirms that his choral music is of a high standard and tailor-made for the forces intended, many of them non-professional, but idiomatically advanced enough to satisfy the most expert groups, of which The Elysian Singers is a leading UK example.

Each has its interest and beauties, the major work Cantos Sagrados a moving evocation of Latin American political repression, combining modern poems with traditional religious texts.

Well recorded and documented meticulously in Signum's comprehensive manner, with full texts, of course! One for every choir conductor looking for new repertoire to check out.


© Peter Grahame Woolf