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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: 11 minutes 52 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)

… here in hiding …
First line:
Masked by these bare shadows
composer
1993; ATTB solo voices; dedicated to Aidan and Clare MacMillan; commissioned by The Hilliard Ensemble and first performed in Glasgow in August 1993
author of text
Adoro te
author of text
translation of the Aquinas hymn

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
… here in hiding … was written in 1993 and is dedicated to MacMillan’s twins Aidan and Clare, who were born on 10 June that year. He recalls writing the piece with one or other of them strapped to his chest. ‘I would try to calm them and then snatch a few more bars of the piece at my desk before they would erupt again.’ Hardly the easiest time for a composer, making the serene end result even more remarkable. It was commissioned by The Hilliard Ensemble and premiered in Glasgow in August 1993. The scoring represents the constitution of the Hilliards, one countertenor, two tenors and a baritone. The Latin text is by St Thomas Aquinas, the hymn Adoro te devote. But MacMillan chooses to incorporate Gerard Manley Hopkins’s translation into the setting and thereby ‘jumbling’, as he puts it, the Latin with the English. He also notes that: ‘The different texts are sometimes combined, sometimes fragmented or intercut to form new relationships and a new order of progression.’ The work was written immediately after MacMillan’s Trumpet Concerto and he has written that ‘both pieces explore similar musical and theological territory … the mystery of the Eucharist.’

This work is an example of MacMillan allowing himself free rein, stylistically, knowing that he was writing for professionals. The music is correspondingly complex. The plainsong chant Adore te devote is magically woven into the structure (as it is in the Trumpet Concerto). The piece is episodic and uses the voices in imaginative combinations to create a richly diverse range of textures. A beautiful tenor solo midway is followed by warmly expressive music and a highly effective fade-out at the end.

from notes by Paul Spicer © 2011

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