MacMillan: Tenebrae - Cappella Nova -

My first thoughts on the opening of the disc was to almost groan out loud that MacMillan had succumbed to composing Hollywood-esque second tier music. Fortunately, my second and subsequent thoughts completely eviscerated such a horrible thought.

This is really enjoyable and accessible modern music and even though it is far from being avant garde, it is also hugely more interesting and stimulating (both emotionally and intellectually) than what passes for "classical" music on certain radio stations these days. Employing a largely tonal or polytonal language there are some fascinating juxtapositions of choral groupings and a solo trumpet.

The singing and trumpet playing is as fine as the music and makes for some very emotional listening; before reading the booklet I listened "blind" as to MacMillan's intentions and the sense of crossing cultural boundaries is audible, presumably just as MacMillan would want it to be as indicated in the extensive interview that takes the place of the usual notes. Spanning a large part of his career (some 30+ years and still counting), the compositions that make up this disc (including the titular Tenebrae) are very varied in their complexity and range of timbres but always entrancing to the ear. Cappella Nova sing with extraordinary passion and the sometimes close recording that Linn gives to their voices makes for some raw moments that really ache - very appropriate in the context of the mood of the music.

Highly enjoyable and probably will not be bettered in the foreseeable future.
01 November 2007