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The most recent work in this latest volume of Challenge’s MacMillan series is O from 2008, a brilliant exploration of the liturgical vocative which addresses Christ, and is developed out of the Strathclyde Motets, which seemed at the time to bring together so many of his different imperatives as a composer. No less persistent and insistent is the lovely melody MacMillan wrote for a William Soutar poem and which, after many appearances in the work, became the basis for the orchestral Tryst. The main choral pieces here, though, are a Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis from around the turn of the millennium, when MacMillan’s recent experience of operatic writing brought a new structural logic and simplified drama to his writing. They’re beautifully sung and paced by the Dutch choir (chorus director Edward Caswell) and orchestra, thanks to the composer’s strong sense of the music’s architecture, not just its episodic detail and colour.

BRIAN MORTON Read the full review on Agora Classica

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