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Hyperion Records

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Angel by William Morris (1834-1896)
Courtesy of Peter Nahum at The Leicester Galleries, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67867
Recording details: June 2010
Wells Cathedral, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Julian Millard
Release date: June 2011
Total duration: 8 minutes 47 seconds

'Wells Cathedral Choir gives a compelling survey of choral pieces by one of Britain's most important composers … MacMillan's musical voice remains breathtakingly distinctive and true. This disc is a worthy recorded tribute to a truly significant figure in contemporary music. Highly recommended' (Choir & Organ)

'The Wells singing is of a consistently high standard (MacMillan's trademark use of melisma is particularly well assimilated) and organist Jonathan Vaughn delivers a scintillating account of Le tombeau de Georges Rouault, the magnificent solo piece which ends this absorbing programme' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Here is another splendid release of recent British choral music from the choir of Wells Cathedral and its superb director Matthew Owens … the choir is, in a word, magnificent. Singing with impressive self-assurance and clearly revelling in MacMillan's uncanny ability to make everything sound perfectly natural even when the technical skills involved are extraordinarily demanding' (International Record Review)

Tremunt videntes angeli
2002; SSAATTBB unaccompanied; composed for the dedication of the Paolozzi Millennium Window in St Mary's Episcopal Cathedral Edinburgh on 9 May 2002; dedicated to Griffith Symmons Roberts
author of text
from the Hymn Aeterne rex altissime

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Tremunt videntes angeli was written for the dedication service on 9 May 2002 of the Millennium Window by Sir Eduardo Paolozzi in the Resurrection chapel of St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral, Edinburgh. MacMillan takes his text from the fifth-century hymn ‘Aeterne rex altissime’. Simple in form but a step up in complexity from Serenity, the opening verse is given to tenors and basses over a long bass drone pitched on a low D. The second verse is given similar material but is sung by the upper voices. The verses are separated by a tutti refrain in richly harmonized garb. The doxology, coming out of the second of these refrains, has a soprano (treble) duet in thirds whilst the rest of the choir sings an improvised Alleluia on given pitches. (MacMillan gives a suggested template to follow if they wish.) The refrain brings the work to its conclusion. The use of this improvisation technique, where a murmur of voices each sings its own gentle paean of praise, brings to mind that wonderful image by the poet Alcuin of York (c740–804), translated by the inimitable Helen Waddell, who wrote: ‘… and there was a great silence in heaven. And a thousand thousand saying: “Glory to the Lord King.”’ MacMillan’s trademark ornamental figures characterize the vocal lines of this work and remind us of his Scottish ancestry, the inspirational music of Robert Carver (c1485–c1570), and the influence of Scottish folk music. It is dedicated to Griffith Symmons Roberts, MacMillan’s godson and the youngest son of Michael Symmons Roberts, the poet with whom MacMillan has collaborated extensively.

from notes by Paul Spicer © 2011

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