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Track(s) taken from CDA67460

Te Deum

author of text
Book of Common Prayer

Polyphony, Elin Manahan Thomas (soprano), James Vivian (organ), Stephen Layton (conductor)
Recording details: July 2003
Temple Church, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Julian Millard
Release date: August 2005
Total duration: 15 minutes 2 seconds

Cover artwork: Crucifixion (1995) by Craigie Aitchison
Private Collection / Bridgeman Art Library, London


'An intense, deeply felt interpretation, full of beautiful and affecting singing, with all the elements—string orchestra, featured violin, choir and soloists—nicely balanced … As ever, MacMillan incorporates all his allusions, including those to Scottish traditional music, into an utterly individual style. The performance confirms Polyphony's place in the front rank of choirs' (Gramophone)

'This splendid new performance from Polyphony also conveys dignity, and a sense (hard to explain) that the suffering is, in some mysterious way, redemptive. Easier to quantify, the singing is also remarkably secure technically, the ensemble near perfect. Beautiful, powerful playing too from the Britten Sinfonia' (BBC Music Magazine)

'James MacMillan's work is informed by his Catholic faith, but rarely has he communicated his spiritual message as effectively as in this large-scale piece. Perhaps Haydn's example has forced him to raise his game, or maybe it was the heartrending text: either way, this is a modern choral masterpiece, and Stephen Layton and his forces its ideal interpreters' (The Independent)

'If you've heard them and followed the laudatory press they've gotten worldwide, you already know that this [Polyphony] is one of the world's truly great chamber choirs. Layton always gets breathtaking beauty of tone from them, as well as exquisite interpretive and dynamic nuances. They bring Macmillan's compelling sound-world to life more vibrantly than any other choir I've heard his music from. Organist Vivian and the Britten Sinfonia supply excellent support, and Hyperion seals the bargain with rich, clean SA sound that's a joy to hear' (American Record Guide)

'… the qualities which have made Polyphony one of the finest choirs around at the moment are very much in evidence in these assured and perceptive performances. James Vivian's organ accompaniments are perfectly balanced and the overall recorded sound is exquisite. All told, this disc offers a mesmerising listening experience' (International Record Review)

'MacMillan has a tremendous gift for making the simple resonate; the 2001 Te Deum, a first recording, shows he also knows just how to freshen an ageing choral tradition. Some fantastic singing here; and glorious music' (The Times)

'This stunning work, brilliantly performed by Stephen Layton's chamber choir Polyphony and the Britten Sinfonia, is something no serious lover of choral music should be without' (Birmingham Post)

'In an ideal world, Hyperion's August disc of the month would sell by the truckload. The sheer quality of James MacMillan's Seven Last Words, the intensity of Stephen Layton's interpretation and the unrestrained, heartfelt performances of Polyphony and the Britten Sinfonia should guarantee critical acclaim' (Music Week)

'Hypnotic intensity: harshness mingled with beauty … there is beauty, too, in the setting of Jeremy Taylor’s poem on the Annunciation. I haven’t heard the rival recordings from The Sixteen or New College Choir but I doubt that they convey the quality of this almost timeless setting better than Polyphony' (MusicWeb International)» More
The Te Deum was written in 2001 to mark the occasion of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 2002. It was first performed at matins at the Chapel Royal of St Peter ad Vincula in the Tower of London. A wholly original approach to these frequently set and performed words marks out MacMillan’s refreshing lack of ‘Anglican baggage’ in providing a new setting for choirs. It is something of an irony that such an original setting should be of a text serving the Anglican service of matins which, because of extensive liturgical reforms in recent years in the Church of England, now barely exists in its choral form. But this work transcends liturgical pigeon-holing and will serve in any context as yet another example of MacMillan’s desire to induce that ‘sense of silence and sacrifice in the listener’ which brings about transformation. Here, in this work, we have so much of the essential MacMillan: the quiet, contemplative phrases; the decorated solos reminiscent of late medieval and Scottish traditional music; sections of free singing where a phrase is given which is then picked up by other singers and mimicked, canon-like, over long-held vocal and organ chords; the dramatic use of walls of organ sound, especially near the end with whole ‘palm clusters’ on full organ; and beautifully interactive contrapuntal lines. Then, finally, the tenors’ and basses’ simply repeated chords invoking the Almighty to ‘Let me never be confounded’. The organ finishes the work with a reminiscence of a Scottish lament over a sustained chord of G major.

from notes by Paul Spicer © 2005

Écrit en 2001 pour le cinquantième anniversaire de l’accession au trône de la reine (2002), le Te Deum fut créé à matines, à la chapelle royale de Saint Peter ad Vincula (Tour de Londres). Une approche entièrement inédite de ce texte, par ailleurs souvent mis en musique et interprété, illustre la rafraîchissante absence de «bagage anglican», à l’origine d’une nouvelle version chorale. Quelle ironie qu’une mise en musique aussi originale concerne justement un texte pour les matines anglicanes, lesquelles, suite aux vastes réformes liturgiques entreprises dans l’Église anglicane ces dernières années, survivent à peine sous leur forme chorale. Mais cette œuvre, qui transcende les étiquettes liturgiques, servira dans n’importe quel contexte, illustrant une nouvelle fois le désir qu’a MacMillan d’induire le «sens du silence et du sacrifice chez l’auditeur», source de métamorphose. Dans cette œuvre, maints éléments sont la quintessence de MacMillan: les phrases paisibles, contemplatives; les solos ornés, renouvelés de la musique médiévale tardive et de la musique traditionnelle écossaise; des sections de chant libre, où une phrase donnée est reprise par d’autres chanteurs et imitée, comme en canon, sur de longs accords tenus à la voix et à l’orgue; l’utilisation théâtrale de parois de sonorité organistique, surtout vers la fin, avec des «palm clusters» [groupe de notes exécutés avec le plat de la main – NdT] au plein-jeu; et, enfin, des lignes contrapuntiques magnifiquement interactives. Pour conclure, les accords simplement répétés des ténors et des basses en appellent au Tout-Puissant («Que je ne sois jamais confondu»). Puis l’orgue parachève l’œuvre avec la réminiscence d’une lamentation écossaise, sur un accord tenu de sol majeur.

extrait des notes rédigées par Paul Spicer © 2005
Français: Hyperion Records Ltd

Das Te Deum wurde 2001 aus Anlass des Goldenjubiläums der britischen Königin 2002 geschrieben und erstmals im Rahmen einer Morgenliturgie in der Chapel Royal of St Peter ad Vincula im Tower of London aufgeführt. Mit der ganz originellen Herangehensweise an diesen häufig vertonten und aufgeführten Text bezeugt MacMillan einen erfrischenden Mangel an „anglikanischem Ballast“, nicht zuletzt durch die Wahl des Textes für eine neue Chorkomposition. Es ist schon etwas komisch, dass ein neues Werk für die anglikanische Morgenliturgie auf so einem Text beruht, der nach ausführlichen liturgischen Reformen in der anglikanischen Kirche in den letzten Jahren kaum noch angewendet wird. Aber dieses Werk setzt sich über die liturgische Schubfacheinteilung hinweg und ist in jedem Zusammenhang ein weiteres Beispiel für MacMillans Bemühen, jenes „Gefühl von Ruhe und Opfer“ in den Hörern zu vermitteln, das Veränderungen herbeizuführen imstande ist. Hier in diesem Werk stößt man auf so viel Typisches für MacMillan: die ruhigen kontemplativen Gesten; die an das späte englische Mittelalter und traditionelle schottische Musik erinnernden verzierten Sololinien; die Abschnitte freien Singens, wo eine vorgegebene musikalische Phrase von anderen Sängern aufgenommen und über lang ausgehaltenen Vokal- und Orgelakkorden kanonartig imitiert wird; der theatralische Einsatz von massiven Orgelklängen, besonders gegen Ende des Werkes mit Clustern der ganzen Handfläche bei voller Registrierung; und die schönen aufeinander reagierenden Kontrapunktlinien. Am Ende beschwören dann die einfachen Akkordwiederholungen der Tenöre und Bässe den Allmächtigen auf die Worte „Let me never be confounded“ [Lass uns niemals untergehen]. Die Orgel beendet das Werk mit einer Erinnerung an ein schottisches Klagelied über einem ausgehaltenen G-Dur-Akkord.

aus dem Begleittext von Paul Spicer © 2005
Deutsch: Elke Hockings

Other albums featuring this work

MacMillan: Seven Last Words from the Cross & other choral works
This album is not yet available for downloadSACDA67460Super-Audio CD
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