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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: 5 minutes 47 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)

Seinte Mari moder milde
first performed on Christmas Eve 1995
author of text
13th century

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The words of the poem Seinte Mari moder milde, from a thirteenth-century manuscript in the Library of Trinity College, Cambridge, are offered new dramatic and lyrical power in MacMillan’s setting. It was commissioned by King’s College, Cambridge, for the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols and first performed on Christmas Eve, 1995. The work beautifully excites the chapel’s famous acoustic with its soaring high treble notes which are equally effective in the resonant space of Westminster Cathedral. After the opening phrase, the organ part is at once released from an accompanying role and given a freedom which adds to the spirit and forward motion of this work. The greatest sense of the unexpected is reserved for the end, when the texture moves quickly from the sonorous scoring of full organ and choir to a mesmeric duet for two solo trebles which leaves the piece hanging in impish suspense.

from notes by James Whitbourn © 2001

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