Macmillan: Veni, veni, Emmanuel; …as others see us…; Three Dawn Rituals

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Macmillan
LABELS: BMG/Catalyst
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.

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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.

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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