The careers of Peter Maxwell Davies (born 1934) and Kevin MacMillan (born 1959) make a useful comparative study. Davies, the elder of the two, came to maturity in a musical milieu still enamored of serialism; and although Davies early professed an admiration for Mahler, his music tended toward the dissonant and esoteric, even when he strove to write in a more public mode, as he obviously attempted in his Violin Concerto (1988), for Isaac Stern. Manchesterian by birth, Davies has long celebrated both the spiritual culture of the Orkney Islands, where he resides, and the austere evangelical character of the local archipelagic patron-saint, Olaf the Great. Scots by birth, MacMillan, like Davies, explores the spiritual character of the forms taken by Christianity in the North of England and in Scotland in the early medieval period. But - we now arrive at the difference - MacMillan belongs to a generation for whom serialism no longer functions as an unavoidable dogma; he remains free, therefore, to make use of a variety of means to constitute an identifiable musical language. He has done so in his "Triduum," a three-part orchestral commemoration of Easter consisting of a cor anglais concerto, a cello concerto, and a symphony. These works incoporate a full spate of instrumental innovations culled from composers as different as Mahler and Messiaen and combine them with Plain Song and old-fashioned (yet ever new) triadic harmonies. MacMillan brings these resources to bear on the two recent scores represented by the new CD from BIS: His "Epiclesis" (1993; revised 1996), a trumpet concerto; and his "Ninian" (1998), a clarinet concerto. Certain features of "Epiclesis" (Greek for "invocation") will bring to mind the Panufnik of "Sinfonia Sacra" (1964), especially the device of multiple trumpets sounding in antiphony from points without the orchestra; elsewhere, a bit incongruously, one might think of the Swede Jan Sandström's "Motorbike" Concerto. Incredibly, the thunder-sheet plays a role of thematic importance in the composition. When the climax arrives, the Plain Song "Adoro Te," which has been subliminally present all along, peals out. Even the dead must be moved. "Ninian" follows a program about the enigmatic missionary Nyn or Nynia who promulgated the Gospels and made miracles on the Scottish marches in the early Fourth Century A.D. The "Adoro Te" appears; so does a bird-call imitation from Richard Strauss's "Die Schweigsame Frau." Yet the impression is anything but one of dilettantish eclecticism and the overall effect is powerful. Truly miraculous stuff!