Cappella Nova - Alpha & Omega - BBC Music Magazine
17 February 2014BBC Music Magazine
Nova make James MacMillan's Missa Dunelmi
sound much easier to sing than it actually is, and that's a compliment. The
tricky cluster chords at the start of the Sanctus sound tight, the eight-part
writing in the Gloria clearly voiced and confidently balanced.
it helps having MacMillan himself directing: it's interesting his default
dynamic in the piece is restrained and quietly spoken, enhancing the devotional
atmosphere of the performance. The Agnue Dei particularly benefits, its
expansive phrases flowing gently yet unfalteringly forward.
Tavener conducts the rest of the programme, which has many other highlights -
the supple solo tenor work (uncredited) in St
Patrick's Magnificat; the ethereal hummed backdrop to Invocation (the first time the word ‘sismograph' has been set in
sacred music?); Madeleine Mitchell's kenning violin interlude in Domine non secundum peccata nostra.
striking of all is Alpha & Omega,
a setting of texts from Revelation. Proceeding initially in a sequence of block
chords, some wrenched with a mixture of anguish and ecstasy, the sub-divided
writing (nine-part) is nailed with pinpoint accuracy by the 18 singers. A
marvellous set of performances.
Related LinksCappella NovaJames MacMillanAlpha & Omega