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Track(s) taken from CDA67970

Tota pulchra es

2010; SATB and organ; commissioned by the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington DC, for the American Guild of Organists' National Convention; dedicated to the Very Reverend Dennis Corrado
author of text
Song of Songs; antiphon for Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Westminster Cathedral Choir, Martin Baker (conductor), Peter Stevens (organ)
Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Studio Master:
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Recording details: July 2012
Westminster Cathedral, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Adrian Peacock
Engineered by David Hinitt
Release date: June 2013
Total duration: 4 minutes 32 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), John Kitchen (organ)


'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)
Tota pulchra es was written in 2010 for the American Guild of Organists’ National Convention and commissioned by the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington DC. The settings of these words we know from composers like Bruckner, Duruflé and Casals are mostly gentle and reflective. MacMillan’s is powerful, impressive, rhythmic and dramatic. It is an outpouring of joy in an almost fevered dance. As might be expected for such an occasion the organ has a key role to play and the work ends with a series of fractured chords and a final blaze of B major on full organ.

from notes by Paul Spicer © 2013

Les Tota pulchra es de compositeurs comme Bruckner, Duruflé et Casals sont, pour l’essentiel, doux et méditatifs. Celui de MacMillan, rédigé en 2010 pour l’American Guild of Organists’ National Convention, suite à une commande de la Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception (Washington D.C.), est puissant, impressionnant, rythmique et dramatique. C’est une effusion de joie dans une danse presque enfiévrée. Naturellement, l’orgue joue un rôle clé et l’œuvre s’achève sur une série d’accords fracturés et un ultime flamboiement de si majeur au plein-jeu.

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

Ave maris stella steht im völligen Gegensatz zu Tota pulchra es, das 2010 für die American Guild of Organists’ National Convention geschrieben wurde und von der Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington D.C. in Auftrag gegeben worden war. Die Vertonungen dieses Texts, die man von Komponisten wie Bruckner, Duruflé und Casals kennt, sind hauptsächlich behutsam und nachdenklich gehalten. MacMillans Version ist kraftvoll, eindrucksvoll, rhythmisch und dramatisch. Sein Werk verströmt Freude in einem fast fieberhaften Tanz. Wie bei einem solchen Anlass vielleicht zu erwarten ist, spielt die Orgel dabei eine wichtige Rolle und das Werk endet mit einer Reihe von gebrochenen Akkorden und einer Feuersbrunst in H-Dur des Organum Plenum.

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

Other albums featuring this work

MacMillan: Who are these angels? & other sacred music
Studio Master: CKD383Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
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