Macmillan: Veni, veni, Emmanuel; Tryst

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Macmillan
LABELS: Naxos
WORKS: Veni, veni, Emmanuel; Tryst
PERFORMER: Colin Currie (percussion)Ulster Orchestra/Takuo Yuasa
CATALOGUE NO: 8.554167
The main work on this recording – Veni, veni, Emmanuel, described by its composer as a concerto for percussion and orchestra – like many James MacMillan pieces draws inspiration from an aspect of Christian liturgy, here the Advent texts that ‘proclaim the promised day of liberation from fear, anguish and oppression’. (The day is assumed to have arrived and is Easter Day.) MacMillan’s music is likewise proclamatory – its directness and carefully steered emotionality are products of a fervently held world view – but when, as here, accompanied by involved theological booklet notes, it can run the risk of preachiness. It is generally a risk worth taking: his sound is distinctive and always committed.

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Colin Currie, despite his youth, is a veteran of the work and turns in

a performance to match that of the original soloist, Evelyn Glennie. It is a welcome reminder, if needed, that Scotland does not boast just one world-class percussionist.

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The other work on the CD, Tryst, has, like Veni, veni, Emmanuel, been recorded before. It is debatable whether another outing is quite due, but the Ulster Orchestra under Takuo Yuasa provides some justification in a superbly alert, agile and responsive reading: they are truly a revelation. Christopher Wood