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In both of these CDs, MacMillan’s celtic ornamentation signature is still strong and his revisiting of earlier works – perhaps unconsciously – adds a different dimension to what has gone before. At Westminster Cathedral, MacMillan’s dramatic instincts are shown to the full and his sense of occasion impeccable. The programme includes Tu es Petrus, heralding the arrival of Pope Benedict XVI at the cathedral in 2010. Scored for mixed choir, brass, timpani, percussion and organ, the overwhelming sound reverberates around the building to stunning effect (MacMillan used the same scoring for Summae Trinitati, for the installation of the Archbishop of Westminster in 2009). The motet Ecce sacerdos magnus (for the enthronement at the Consecration of the Bishop of Aberdeen) is simply scored for a unison melody enhanced by two trumpets. Moving away from the drama, the three Tenebrae Responsories are searing and anguished, out of the same stable as the Seven Last Words from the Cross. The impassioned cries of ‘Jesum’ from the boys touch the heart in an unforgettable performance. These boys follow a long line of distinguished young choristers at the Cathedral, and they do not disappoint. Beautifully recorded, there is much to enjoy and the performers are outstanding.

SHIRLEY RATCLIFFE Read the full review on Agora Classica

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