WORKS: Veni, veni, Emmanuel; …as others see us…; Three Dawn Rituals
PERFORMER: Evelyn Glennie (percussion); Scottish CO/James MacMillan
CATALOGUE NO: 09026 61916 2 DDD
This is a timely disc from the Catalyst label, newly-launched by BMG with the aim of giving contemporary music fresh impetus through albums of concentrated, aggressive programming. It presents the James MacMillan we have come to expect, welding a natural eclecticism into a personal voice, and skilfully exploiting at a number of levels a range of topical issues from religion to nationalism.
The composer himself conducts two short orchestral works: ‘…as others see us…’, a collection of typical MacMillan textures assembled as a Scottish critique of the English character, and the more substantial, Javanese-inspired Three Dawn Rituals. Though pleasant enough, both pieces are laboured in comparison with the refreshing, folk-influenced After the Tryst, for violin and piano, and Untold, for wind quintet.
But the main thrust is from Veni, veni, Emmanuel, MacMillan’s spectacular percussion concerto premiered at the 1992 BBC Proms and conducted by Jukka-Pekka Saraste. Evelyn Glennie’s virtuosity acquires a real sense of presence in this superbly balanced recording; there’s also playing of distinction from orchestral soloists, not least the viola. Nicholas Williams