JAMES MACMILLAN (b.1959): Larghetto for Orchestra, JOHANNES BRAHMS (1833-1897): Symphony No. 4 in E Minor, Op. 98.

Catalogue Number: 11X055

Label: Reference Recordings

Reference: FR-744SACD

Format: SACD hybrid

Price: $19.98

Description: The 15-minute Larghetto is the composer’s 2017 transcription for full orchestra of his 2009 a cappella choral Miserere. The setting of the penitential Psalm 51 in its choral form perfectly reflects its solemn, lamenting character, with impassioned entreaties for God’s mercy at key points in the text. The orchestral version preserves this, but the work takes on a more monumental aspect, MacMillan deploying the full resources of the orchestral brass in the piece's towering climaxes. Beginning with chorale-like textures from the strings, emulating the choir in the original, the central section is in plainchant style, the lines and harmony emphasized by the timbral range of the instrumental soloists. In the final part, offering hope of redemption, the main theme in major mode here blazes forth in the full-throated magnificence of the brass choir. The Pittsburgh orchestra are on top form here and in the Brahms, which provides an excuse to acquire a piece of standard repertoire at which you might otherwise look askance, as the playing, Honeck's interpretation with its Germanic heft and Viennese refinement, the acoustic of the superb Heinz Hall, and the recording, are of demonstration quality. Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra; Manfred Honeck.


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