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Hyperion Records

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Photograph by Dorothy Burrows.
E & E Picture Library
Track(s) taken from CDA67219
Recording details: July 2000
Westminster Cathedral, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Antony Howell & Julian Millard
Release date: April 2001
Total duration: 6 minutes 4 seconds

'Powerful liturgical music from one of today's most admired composers, performed with passionate intensity … performances throughout are exceptionally fine and the recorded sound radiantly atmospheric' (Gramophone)

'A sublime disc' (BBC Music Magazine)

'A striking issue well worth the investment of all interested in recent choral literature' (American Record Guide)

'It is hard to think of any recent music that conveys religious ecstasy as intensely as James MacMillan's Mass … music of high voltage from first to last … the singing of Westminster Cathedral Choir is electrifying' (The Guardian)

'This music, the Mass in particular, is virtually guaranteed a passage into the central repertoire of choirs around the world; it could hardly have had a better springboard than this recording' (International Record Review)

'A busy railway carriage is probably not the ideal environment in which to listen to James MacMillan’s music. But the fact that it transported me to another place is proof of the power of his (Classic FM Magazine)

'Long life to James MacMillan and a plentiful supply of pens and ink' (Fanfare, USA)

'Anyone familiar with the ambience of Westminster Cathedral from the sound of the choir and organ to the pungent scents of wax polish and incense will feel at home immediately and it is difficult to imagine this music sounding as good in any other place. Highly recommended, these performances of this powerful music will repay concentrated listening and repetition' (Organists' Review)

'Outstanding performances. Gaudeamus in loci pace is a breath-catching bonus' (HMV Choice)

'A programme of exceptional quality and interest, which no genuine lover of cathedral music should ignore' (Cathedral Music)

'From the moment this CD begins, the senses tingle with the magical, spiritual nature of the music' (Sunday Herald, Scotland)

Christus vincit
first performed on 23 November 1994
author of text
Laudes Regiae, or Royal Acclamations

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The text of Christus vincit comes from the Laudes regiae or Royal Acclamations, in which the pope, king, queen and bishop would be acclaimed and placed under the protection of a particular saint in glorious ceremony which was common in the Middle Ages. It is a tradition which would have been used in Worcester, where these words were found in a medieval manuscript. Only the introductory words are set by MacMillan, however, and they concern only Christ himself—‘Christ conquers, Christ is King, Christ is Lord of all’—and act as a refrain throughout the Acclamations. MacMillan’s score turns its back on the pomp and circumstance attached to the original text, which is now treated in a more reflective manner, and with a Gaelic flavour which comes in the ornamentation of the vocal line. What was once a simple, punchy refrain is expanded both horizontally and vertically to become a massive statement of Christ’s glory and kingship.

Christus vincit was commissioned for performance at the St Cecilia’s Day Service in St Paul’s Cathedral, London, on 23 November 1994.

from notes by James Whitbourn © 2001

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