Album review: James MacMillan, Magnificat (Challenge Classics)


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The Independent Culture

The second volume of James MacMillan's projected four-album series for Challenge finds him conducting the Netherlands Chamber Philharmonic and Netherlands Radio Choir on the premiere of his Advent antiphon “Ó”, in which lowering strings shade treble choral harmonies either side of a central solo trumpet passage, its divine nobility haloed by the choir's extended “O”.

It's accompanied here by his earlier “Nunc Dimittis” and “Magnificat”, both likewise sandwiching horns between spacious orchestral beds underpinning the choral recital, and by MacMillan's breakthrough work “Tryst”, a still striking piece whose plaintive, keening woodwind are progressively assailed by urgent strings in various configurations, before subsiding into a contemplative, elegiac conclusion.

Download: Ó; Tryst; Magnificat