Cappella Nova - Alpha & Omega - Le Scena Musicale

Nobody does church like James MacMillan. Every year, as Christmas nears and a Mass or Magnificat of his lands on the deck, the composer contrives to surprise, bending the harmonic line out of the blue like David Beckham in his prime, while staying true throughout to a traditional sacred format.

MacMillan himself directs his Missa Dunelmi, with Alan Tavener leading Capella Nova for the rest of the concert. It is recorded in the challenging acoustic of the Church of the Holy Rude, Stirling. The sound though, as you'd expect on a label run by a high-end hi-fi manufacturer, is exemplary - wondrously atmospheric and worth the album price on its own if you've got new speakers to show off to envious friends.

Madeleine Mitchell pops up with a stunning violin solo, which she plays more like country fiddler than concert soloist, filling in the harmonic hills and valleys while the vocals curl upwards into the roof beams. MacMillan is a champion virtuoso of church space. 

10 January 2014