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Psalm 51

MacMillan’s monumental setting of Psalm 51, Miserere (long associated with Ash Wednesday) was commissioned for a 2009 festival in Antwerp, where it was performed by The Sixteen, a choir with which MacMillan has had a long and deep association. It draws on many characteristics of the composer’s mature choral style, from folk-like melodies to Scotch snap rhythms, from bitonality to canonic textures, and from plainchant to dramatic and explosive expressions of feeling. The composer writes:

It is through-composed but structured in a series of interlocking sections, and bound together by a number of recurring motifs. I have nodded towards Allegri’s masterful setting by referencing the psalm chant found in his setting. However, my version of the chant is harmonised, once in a relatively traditional manner, and then later, ethereally and with floating drones. The opening melody, based upon a minor mode, eventually recurs at the very end in its major, with a sense of resignation and hope.

from notes by Signum Classics © 2019


MacMillan: One equal music & other choral works
Studio Master: SIGCD575Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available


Track 3 on SIGCD575 [11'55] Download only

Track-specific metadata for SIGCD575 track 3

Recording date
29 October 2017
Recording venue
University College School, Hampstead, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Adrian Peacock
Recording engineer
David Hinitt
Hyperion usage
  1. MacMillan: One equal music & other choral works (SIGCD575)
    Disc 1 Track 3
    Release date: June 2019
    Download only
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