Consecration – The Culham Motets; A Special Appeal; Sing Joyfully to the Lord; Beatus Andreas; Behold, You Are Beautiful, My Love etc.
Cappella Nova/Alan Tavener
Linn Records CKD633 80:49 mins
In this fine recording, the fourth instalment of Capella Nova’s acclaimed James MacMillan series, the Scottish-based choir once more brings a rare beauty and depth of sound to MacMillan’s radiant music.
At the album’s heart are the five Culham Motets, composed in 2015 for the consecration of the Chapel of Christ the Redeemer at Culham Court. The motets range from the mystic profundity of ‘Lift high the ancient portals’ to the joyous proclamations of ‘See the place where God lives’. Previously unrecorded, the cycle makes for a satisfying whole, and here receives a compelling and committed reading.
The rest of the album presents a range of shorter works, mostly composed over the last decade. Personal works like the luminous ‘Behold, you are beautiful, my love’ (2018), composed for MacMillan’s son’s wedding, sit alongside commissions such as A Special Appeal (2017), described by the composer as ‘a mini sacred opera’ to commemorate Óscar Romero, the Salvadoran prelate murdered in 1980. St Anne’s Mass (1997/2011) is particularly welcome. MacMillan’s most oft-sung work, this gentle piece has never previously been professionally recorded; Cappella Nova bring special warmth and colour to the folk-infused Sanctus.
The excellent sleeve notes are by soprano and choir co-founder Rebecca Tavener. Interwoven with playful snippets of conversation between Tavener and MacMillan, these enlightening notes further highlight the sense of shared musical understanding that unite composer and choir in this impressive disc.