Welcome to Hyperion Records, an independent British classical label devoted to presenting high-quality recordings of music of all styles and from all periods from the twelfth century to the twenty-first.

Hyperion offers both CDs, and downloads in a number of formats. The site is also available in several languages.

Please use the dropdown buttons to set your preferred options, or use the checkbox to accept the defaults.

Click cover art to view larger version
Track(s) taken from CDA67970

Tenebrae Responsories

2006; SSAATTBB unaccompanied; written for Cappella Nova and first performed by them in 2007 in St Andrew's in the Square, Glasgow; dedicated to Catherine and Nigel Gibbs as a wedding gift
author of text
5th, 7th and 8th Responsories at Matins on Good Friday

Westminster Cathedral Choir, Martin Baker (conductor)
Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Studio Master:
Studio Master:
Recording details: July 2012
Westminster Cathedral, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Adrian Peacock
Engineered by David Hinitt
Release date: June 2013
Total duration: 20 minutes 45 seconds

Cover artwork: Angels Supporting a Dial which Indicates the Hours of the Different Scenes of the Passion, an illustration for The Life of Christ by James Tissot (1836-1902)
Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York / Bridgeman Art Library, London

Other recordings available for download

Cappella Nova, Alan Tavener (conductor)


'The combination of Westminster Cathedral Choir and MacMillan is irresistible. We are drawn immediately into their complicity by the jaw-dropping Tu es Petrus … its simultaneous celebratory character and clear rootedness in liturgical tradition make it far more than a one-off firework. Quite different are the extraordinary Tenebrae Responsories … the sound of the Westminster choristers adds something unique and the building's resonance buoys up MacMillan's arching lines (carefully shaped under Baker's direction) and dazzling, often bitingly dissonant choral pillars … the performances throughout are outstanding, and beautifully recorded' (Gramophone)

'James MacMillan creates a magnificent effusion of sound, over which the trebles of the Westminster Cathedral Choir soar dramatically … the three movements of Tenebrae Responsories are remarkable for different reasons … this is an intensely concentrated sequence visiting dark, lonely places of the spirit. Of the nine shorter pieces, the ebullient Edinburgh Te Deum is particularly valuable, further attesting to MacMillan's reputation as one of the finest living composers of ecclesiastical music. Martin Baker's direction is masterly' (BBC Music Magazine)

'MacMillan is proof that Catholic composers need not be conventional … the three are an excellent example of that … this is honesty not often heard in sacred music … it's hard not to be impressed by the committed and well-disciplined singing of the Westminster Cathedral Choir, particularly by its boys, who negotiate MacMillan's difficult melismatic writing with confidence' (International Record Review)

'MacMillan has a close relationship with Westminster Cathedral, seeing it as a beacon of musical professionalism to which other Catholic churches should aspire. The performance is correspondingly electric: a perfect balance of voices, topped with a searing, steely treble tone, delivering such perfectly consonant harmonies it’s often goosebump-inducing. An additional draw is the cavernous acoustic of Westminster Cathedral itself—particularly in the joyful noise that is Summae Trinitati, you could be standing in its late-Victorian splendour as the brass and percussion reverberate around you. It's glorious' (Sinfini.com)
The Tenebrae Responsories is a major work in MacMillan’s choral output written for Cappella Nova in 2006 and first performed by them the following year at St Andrew’s in the Square, Glasgow. MacMillan says: ‘I have always loved the Victoria settings of these texts and preciously guarded my old, and now legendary, recording of these by the Westminster Cathedral Choir under George Malcolm. It was a delight to be asked by Cappella Nova to set some of them myself.’ There are three movements which form a spiritually engaging and emotionally involving work which relates back in its searing intensity and some of its choral effects to Seven Last Words from the Cross (1993), one of MacMillan’s seminal earlier works. This work is also about the crucifixion. The word ‘tenebrae’ means ‘darkness’ and refers to the Catholic practice of gradually extinguishing candles following readings of the Psalms in special Holy Week services. The first movement is intensely chromatic, the second begins with three great choral outbursts of ‘Tradiderunt me’ (‘They delivered me [into the hands of the ungodly]’), returning at the end. They are then picked up at the start of the final movement with another three shouts of ‘Jesum’ (‘Jesus was betrayed by the ungodly man …’). The end is yet another example of MacMillan’s ability to give his audience something which will figuratively send them to their knees. A treble solo emerges from a final impassioned choral phrase describing how Peter followed the crucifixion procession from a distance to see the end, and he sings a dying soliloquy, a lament, walking off stage until he can no longer be heard. This remarkable work leaves a vivid impression in performance.

from notes by Paul Spicer © 2013

Écrits en 2006 pour l’ensemble Cappella Nova, qui les créa l’année suivante à Saint Andrew’s in the Square (Glasgow), les Tenebrae Responsories occupent une place importante dans la musique chorale de MacMillan. Voici ce qu’il en dit: «J’ai toujours adoré la manière dont Victoria a mis ces textes en musique et j’ai conservé précieusement mon vieil exemplaire de l’enregistrement, désormais légendaire, qu’en donna le chœur de la cathédrale de Westminster dirigé par George Malcolm. J’ai été ravi que Cappella Nova me demande de mettre à mon tour quelques-uns de ces textes en musique.» Trois mouvements forment une œuvre spirituellement attrayante et prenante qui, par son intensité fulgurante comme par certains de ses effets choraux, rappelle les Seven Last Words from the Cross (1993), l’une des œuvres majeures de MacMillan. Il est, là aussi, question de crucifixion. Le mot «tenebrae» («ténèbres») renvoie à l’usage catholique consistant à éteindre progressivement les cierges après les lectures des psaumes lors des offices de la Semaine sainte. Passé un premier mouvement intensément chromatique, le deuxième mouvement s’ouvre sur trois grandes explosions chorales («Tradiderunt me», «Ils m’ont livré [aux mains des impies]»), qui reviennent à la fin puis sont reprises au début du dernier mouvement avec trois autres cris («Jesum», «Jésus fut trahi par l’impie»). La conclusion redit toute l’aptitude de MacMillan à donner à son auditoire quelque chose qui, et c’est une image, le mettra à genoux. Un treble solo émerge d’une ultime phrase chorale fervente pour évoquer comment Pierre suivit de loin la procession de la crucifixion et il chante un soliloque mourant, une lamentation, en quittant lentement la scène jusqu’à ce qu’on ne puisse plus l’entendre. En concert, cette œuvre remarquable laisse une impression saisissante.

extrait des notes rédigées par Paul Spicer © 2013
Français: Hypérion

Die Tenebrae Responsories sind ein großes Chorwerk MacMillans, das 2006 für die Cappella Nova entstand und im darauffolgenden Jahr von diesem Ensemble erstmals in St Andrew’s in the Square in Glasgow aufgeführt wurde. MacMillan äußert sich dazu folgendermaßen: „Ich habe die Vertonungen dieser Texte von Victoria schon immer geliebt und meine alte, inzwischen legendäre Einspielung davon mit dem Westminster Cathedral Choir unter George Malcolm sorgsam gehütet. Es war mir eine große Freude, den Auftrag von Cappella Nova zu erhalten, einige davon selbst zu vertonen.“ Das Werk hat drei Sätze, die sich zu einem fesselnden und emotional packenden geistlichen Ganzen verbinden, das in seiner ungeheuren Intensität und einigen Choreffekten an den Seven Last Words from the Cross (1993), eine von MacMillans älteren bahnbrechenden Kompositionen, erinnert. Dieses Werk handelt zudem von der Kreuzigung. Das Wort „Tenebrae“ bedeutet „Dunkelheit“ und bezieht sich auf die katholische Praxis, in besonderen Gottesdiensten der Karwoche nach der Lesung der Psalmen nach und nach die Kerzen auszulöschen. Der erste Satz ist von einer intensiven Chromatik geprägt, der zweite beginnt mit drei großen Ausbrüchen des Chors bei „Tradiderunt me“ („Sie übergaben mich [in die Hände der Verräter]“), die am Ende wiederkehren. Zu Beginn des letzten Satzes werden sie dann bei den drei Rufen „Jesum“ („Der Verräter lieferte Jesus aus …“) nochmals aufgegriffen. Das Ende demonstriert wiederum MacMillans Vermögen, seinem Publikum etwas zu liefern, was es im übertragenen Sinne auf die Knie fallen lässt. Aus der letzten leidenschaftlichen Chorphrase, in der beschrieben wird, wie Petrus die Kreuzigungsprozession aus der Ferne verfolgte, um das Ende zu sehen, tritt eine Solosopranstimme hervor, die ein ersterbendes Selbstgespräch singt, ein Lamento, und von der Bühne geht, bis sie nicht mehr zu hören ist. Aufführungen dieses bemerkenswerten Werks hinterlassen lebhafte Eindrücke.

aus dem Begleittext von Paul Spicer © 2013
Deutsch: Viola Scheffel

Other albums featuring this work

MacMillan: Tenebrae
Studio Master: CKD301Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Waiting for content to load...
Waiting for content to load...