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Track(s) taken from CDA67219

Christus vincit

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

Westminster Cathedral Choir, David de Winter (treble), Martin Baker (conductor)
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

Cover artwork: Photograph by Dorothy Burrows.
E & E Picture Library


'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)
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

Le texte de Christus vincit provient de Laudes regiae (Louanges royales), une série d’acclamations où le pape, le roi, la reine et l’évêque étaient acclamés et placés sous la protection d’un saint particulier durant une cérémonie glorieuse en usage au Moyen Age. Cette tradition aurait été en usage à Worcester où ces mots ont été trouvés dans un manuscrit médiéval. MacMillan a choisi de mettre en musique les premiers mots seulement traitant du Christ même—«Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperat» «Christ conquiert, Christ est roi, Christ est Seigneur de tout»—qui évoluent à la manière d’un refrain à travers les louanges. La partition de MacMillan renonce aux fastes et apparats associés au texte original au profit d’un traitement plus contemplatif secondé par une saveur gaélique qui provient de l’ornementation de la ligne vocale. Ce qui était autrefois un refrain simple et entraînant est amplifié aussi bien horizontalement que verticalement pour devenir un énoncé massif du Christ en gloire et majesté.

Christus vincit a été commandité pour être exécuté lors du service de la Fête de Sainte Cécile à la Cathédrale Saint Paul de Londres le 23 novembre 1994.

extrait des notes rédigées par James Whitbourn © 2001
Français: Isabelle Battioni

Der Text von Christus vincit stammt aus den Laudes regiae, Lobgesängen auf den Papst, den König, die Königin und den Bischof, die sie mit prunkvollem Zeremoniell wie im Mittelalter üblich dem Schutz eines bestimmten Heiligen anempfehlen. Es ist dies eine liturgische Tradition, die zum Beispiel in Worcester angewandt wurde, wo man die Texte in einem mittelalterlichen Manuskript gefunden hat. MacMillan vertont jedoch nur die einleitenden Worte. Sie betreffen ausschließlich Christus selbst—„Christ erobert, Christ ist König, Christ ist Lord von allem“—und dienen im gesamten Verlauf der Laudes als Refrain. MacMillans Komposition wendet sich von dem mit dem Originaltext verbundenen Pomp und Gepränge ab; er wird auf besinnlichere Art verarbeitet, und mit einem gälischen Beigeschmack, der in der Verzierung der Gesangslinie zum Ausdruck kommt. Was ursprünglich ein schlichter, einprägsamer Refrain war, wird sowohl horizontal als auch vertikal erweitert zu einer massiven Verkündung der Herrschaft und Herrlichkeit Christi.

Christus vincit ist eine Auftragskomposition für den Gottesdienst zum Festtag der heiligen Cäcilie in der Londoner Kathedrale St. Paul’s am 23. November 1994.

aus dem Begleittext von James Whitbourn © 2001
Deutsch: Anne Steeb/Bernd Müller

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