Unlike many other contemporary classical composers, James MacMillan writes music that is actually accessible to the average classical music lover. And he doesn't sell us short by making things too easy. For example, don't be put off by the dissonant chords opening 'A Scotch Bestiary'; this work turns out to be a real showcase for organ and orchestra. I began to read the (excellent) sleeve notes but as so often I realised it's better to just sit back and listen to the music. There are obviously some musical and, evidently, political, jokes being played out but all you have to do is listen. MacMillan himself conducts and gets superlative results from the BBC Philharmonic. Wayne Marshall is the fine organist and Chandos have produced a stunning recording (The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester) which I would put in the demonstration class.
The 2nd. Piano Concerto is in similar vein, Scottish folk tunes appear and undergo sometimes humorous transformation. I found myself returning to this disc again and again and, by letting the music sink in, learn to appreciate it ever more.
This now has made me want to seek out more of MacMillan's music; maybe The Confession of Isobel Gowdie or Veni, Veni, Emmanuel next.
A wonderful disc, highly recommended to more adventurous classical music fans.