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MacMillan, James: World's Ransoming/Cello Concerto Import

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (April 1 1999)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Bis
  • ASIN: B00000IMR8
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1. The World's Ransoming - Christine Pendrill
2. I. The Mockery
3. II. The Reproaches
4. III. Dearest Wood And Dearest Iron

Product Description

At his best, James MacMillan manages to write music of religious or spiritual inspiration that is never saccharine, tacky, or insipid, and that both challenges and rewards the serious listener. In this respect, he resembles Messaien--though his style is somewhat less difficult--in that he has found a coherent musical language to express his concerns that works first and foremost purely as music. The two works recorded here represent his style well. They form the first two parts of an orchestral trilogy called Tridium, said by the composer to be inspired by the story of Easter. This is heavy stuff, but what makes it all worthwhile is the fact that you don't have to know any of this to enjoy these works as two superb additions to the modern repertoire for English horn and cello, respectively. In this respect The World's Ransoming really stands out, English horn concertos being very rare, and this one being superbly written for the solo instrument (and beautifully performed here). It's always rewarding to see a young composer writing ambitious scores such as these with such confidence, and being supported by excellent performers and a dedicated record label. Definitely worth a listen. --David Hurwitz

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9e673168) out of 5 stars 4 reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9e4871a4) out of 5 stars The Passion of James MacMillan Oct. 1 2000
By Thomas F. Bertonneau - Published on
Format: Audio CD
This CD from BIS presents the first two parts of the orchestral trilogy that MacMillan calls "Triduum." The three parts together explore the actus tragicus of Eastertide and constitute a kind of Bachian "Passion" in purely instrumental terms. Part I of "Triduum" bears the title "The World's Ransoming" and consists of a concerto, in one twenty-minute movement, for cor anglais and orchestra. MacMillan, who is a professing Catholic of deep faith, speaks in a vocabulary which is distinctly modern (showing that he has learned lessons from Messiaen and Stravinsky) while being at the same time highly accessible and dramatic. Much of the thematic interest in "The World's Ransoming" stems from the composer's use of Gregorian chants associated with Easter (the "Pange Lingua" plays an important role). Many of the ecclesiastical motifs that appear in the cor anglais concerto reappear in Parts II and III of "Triduum," as do other motifs that come from MacMillan himself. Part II of the trilogy is a cello concerto. This time there are three distinct movements: "The Mockery," "The Reproaches," and "Dearest Wood and Dearest Iron," the last a reference to the Cross. The cello concerto requires twice the playing time of the cor anglais concerto, and lifts the drama (and the angst) to a higher level. MacMillan further develops the plainsong-motifs and brings in fresh material. The orchestra contributes its full potential and there is much "sonic spectacle" in both works. The "spectacle" is never gratuitous, however; it always contributes to the power of the scene. Both "The World's Ransoming" and the Cello Concerto are symphonic in their conception. We do not achieve catharsis in these two works: That comes only in the symphony, entitled "Vigil," that concludes the trilogy. (It comes on a second CD and must be purchased seperately.) Osmo Vanska, a Finnish conductor, is associated with brilliant modern scores like those of his countryman Kalevi Aho. He leads the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. BIS delivers its usual wall-shaking sound and immaculate acoistic clarity.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa2c4b6d8) out of 5 stars Transcendent Modern Music Dec 4 2001
By Christopher G. Forbes - Published on
Format: Audio CD
James MacMillan is fast becoming my favorite new composer. These two works are passionate, filled with moments of terror and moments of sublime poetry. Like many composers of the last decades, MacMillan's music is informed by his spirituality, in his case a deep devotion to the Catholic faith. But unlike the holy minimalists, Macmillan is not afraid to embrace the dark and the dissonant, but always with a clear dramatic intent. And there are also moments of almost heart-splitting beauty. The opening lament for the cor anglaise in the World's Ransoming in particular stands out. Though each of these pieces stands on it's own, taken together they are a journey into the darkest moments of the Christian year. If you are looking for a classical version of New Age Spirituality, look elsewhere. But if you want a deep and moving musical and spiritual experience, you can't do better that these works.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9e49dc00) out of 5 stars Splendid music June 3 2008
By David C. Green - Published on
Format: Audio CD
I have been a huge fan of the cor anglais (English horn) for many years, often disappointed in the lack of concertante works for the instrument. When I finally found this disc, I was very pleased to see that there was a modern work of good length (20 minutes!) that seemed to fit the bill. When I finally got a hold of the disc, I was more than happy with the results. MacMillan is a genius of orchestration, and makes the English horn part soar. Being an instrument often associated with the melancholy, it fits well as the soloist here, depicting the sad times of the death of Christ before Easter. Furthermore, Pendrill is a fantastic soloist. The cello concerto that follows is equally fascinating and full of just as much depth as the cor anglais piece. Together, they make a wonderful pair. Then, if that isn't enough, there's a third part on another disc to complete the cycle. Beautiful music indeed. Don't miss out!
HASH(0x9e4948a0) out of 5 stars Great listening June 18 2013
By Michael E Klos - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Noteworthy tonal reflection on the passion of Christ. Definitely in the contemporary classical genre which means it is not an easy listen. For those who can hear however the reward is there to be had.