Related Reviews
4 Stars
'...we have here basically timeless musical performances, which are at the same time rooted in tradition and, in the best sense, modern.'
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International Record Review
‘All of the music on this disc is characterized by its intelligence and forward-looking beauty…’
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BBC Radio 3 'CD Review'
‘[ mihi…] is properly timeless isn’t it? Those celtic ornamentations he uses, and this choir is so good at that as well now. They are very beautiful…’
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BBC Music Magazine
Choral & Song Choice: 'A marvellous set of performances.'
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Classical CD Review
‘The composer’s intricate ensemble writing is beautifully performed by the superb chorus, and the engineering richly captures the warm resonance of Church of Holy Rude, Stirling, UK.’
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MusicWeb International
'The music is stimulating and compelling and the performances are first rate.'
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'Cappella Nova have a particularly white, straight sound which shows off the bone-structure of these exquisite motets, poised somewhere between beauty and anguished intensity.'
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Choir & Organ
5 Stars
'... such intensity...'
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'...fine sound that complements excellent performances by Cappella Nova.'
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Le Scena Musicale
'MacMillan is a champion virtuoso of church space.'
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The Observer
4 Stars
'They bring control and precision to the ecstatic, incantatory nature of MacMillan's work...'
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Cappella Nova - Alpha & Omega - AllMusic

07 January 2014
James Manheim

Scotland's James MacMillan is one of the few composers on the British scene who is threading the needle between crossover styles and the contemporary hard core. His works, mostly sacred and motivated by his own Catholic faith, draw on Renaissance a cappella choral styles and are contrapuntally very accomplished. They open with transparent thematic material but are quite intricately developed. Strong engineering and a smaller, well drilled choir both assist his music, and it gets both in this selection of pieces performed by the Scottish choir Cappella Nova. The choir sprang from some of the same origins as MacMillan himself; he has worked with them for many years, conducts the Mass setting heard here (a Missa Brevis, lacking a Credo), and contributes a fascinating interview to the booklet that will be of great interest to musicians working in this field. Most of the music here has not been recorded until now. The result is a collection that will satisfy MacMillan fans and perhaps make some new ones. Sample the Domine non secundum peccata nostra (track 10), the sole accompanied piece. It is accompanied by a single violin, and its economical use, with one section announced by trenchant pizzicatos, is typical of MacMillan's way of thinking. The engineering team from Linn, working in the Church of the Holy Rude in the small Scottish town of Stirling, achieves spectacular clarity (the 'Holy Rude', also spelled Holyrood, is the Christian cross in case you were wondering).
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