Cappella Nova - MacMillan: Consecration - All Music
The small choir Cappella Nova and its conductor Alan Tavener have had a special bond with the music of James MacMillan, and it is not just because the choir and composer share a Scottish background. Cappella Nova has a friendly sound that avoids the remoteness of the English cathedral school, and this matches MacMillan's music, which on one hand is formal, using such devices as chant-like lines, but also has great audience appeal with broad-stroke pictorialism, influences from folk music (Scottish and otherwise), and accessible treatments of tonality. The major works on the album are an a cappella group of pieces, the five Culham Motets, and a St. Anne's Mass, accompanied by organ. The latter is among MacMillan's most frequently performed works but has never before been professionally recorded. The Consecration title knits the program together nicely, referring directly to the Culham Motets (written for the consecration of a chapel) and indirectly to several other works, including three written for the weddings of MacMillan's children and one, Lux aeterna, for his father's funeral. Linn's sound from the Greyfriars Kirk in Edinburgh is excellent. With its idiomatic performances and its profusion of unrecorded music, it is a valuable addition to any library of contemporary choral music.