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Track(s) taken from CDA67970

Ecce sacerdos magnus

2011; unison voices, two trumpets & organ; written for the Consecration of Hugh Gilbert, to whom the work is dedicated, as Bishop of Aberdeen
author of text
Common of a Confessor Bishop

Westminster Cathedral Choir, Martin Baker (conductor), Andrew Crowley (trumpet), Daniel Newell (trumpet), Peter Stevens (organ)
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: 3 minutes 28 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. James Tissot (1836-1902)
Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York / Bridgeman Images


‘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 Tenebrae Responsories 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)
Ecce sacerdos magnus was written for the Consecration of the new Bishop of Aberdeen, Hugh Gilbert. MacMillan notes that ‘I got to know him when he was the Abbot of Pluscarden Abbey where I would go for retreats. He is one of the holiest and most inspiring people I know’. The text (in Latin) is thus highly appropriate: ‘Behold the great priest who in his days pleased God.’ The motet is extremely simple (the vocal part is a unison melody) but is given a sense of occasion by a pair of trumpets which begin it with a chant-like fanfare in octaves.

from notes by Paul Spicer © 2013

Ecce sacerdos magnus fut écrit pour la consécration du nouvel archevêque d’Aberdeen, Hugh Gilbert. «Je l’ai connu quand il était abbé de l’abbaye de Pluscarden, où j’allais faire des retraites. C’est l’une des personnes les plus saintes et les plus stimulantes que je connaisse», confie MacMillan. Le texte (en latin) est donc des mieux appropriés: «Voyez le grand prêtre qui, en son temps, plut à Dieu». Ce motet est simplissime (la partie vocale est une mélodie à l’unisson) mais il s’ouvre sur une fanfare de deux trompettes qui est comme psalmodiée en octaves et lui confère une certaine solennité.

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

Ecce sacerdos magnus wurde für die Einführungsfeier des neuen Bischofs von Aberdeen, Hugh Gilbert, komponiert. MacMillan bemerkt, dass er ihn „kannte, als er der Abt der Pluscarden Abbey war, wo ich mich zu Besinnungstagen aufhielt. Er ist einer der heiligsten und inspirierendsten Menschen, die ich kenne.“ Der Text (in lateinischer Sprache) ist daher äußerst passend: „Seht, ein Hohepriester, der in seinen Tagen Gott gefiel.“ Die Motette ist sehr schlicht gehalten (der Vokalpart ist eine Melodie im Unisono), doch sorgen zwei Trompeten, die das Werk mit einer cantusartigen Fanfare in Oktaven eröffnen, für eine festliche Atmosphäre.

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

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