JAMES MACMILLAN (b.1959): Stabat Mater.
Catalogue Number: 04S076
Description: From his earliest works, MacMillan always displayed a flair for the dramatic, and this has only intensified over the years, as his deep Catholic faith has found more profound expression in his compositions. So it comes as no surprise that in setting the Stabat Mater, that most harrowing and human of prayers, MacMillan has produced one of his most powerful and moving works to date. The work has an underlying intensity and anger, as the Mother's anguish finds full voice; yet we are constantly reminded that this is a prayer as much as it is a detailed description of the Passion from, as it were, an uniquely distressing perspective. The basic vocabulary is MacMillan's familiar personal take on extended tonality, finely judged for its communicative potential, but the choral writing includes some remarkable, innovative effects, such as the sliding chords in contrary motion to the orchestra, or the anger of the shouting crowd vividly portrayed. Much of the drama is carried by the orchestra, to the point where the piece almost resembles an instrumental work with illustrative choral obbligati; the liturgical solemnity is projected by the choir, while the anguish, pain and narrative are the orchestra's concern. The Sixteen, Britten Sinfonia; Harry Christophers.