This third James MacMillan disc from BIS offers more evidence of the composer's unique gifts.
From the early, stravinsky-influenced energy of TRYST - (performed here with more authority than the earlier recording from Maksymiuk) - to the shattering, visceral bleakness of the MEDITATION ON IONA, the disc offers a comprehensive overview of MacMillan's technical virtuosity and emotional resonance.
The MEDITATION ON IONA is an elemental essay on the bleakness, the time-bleached awe of that island landscape. And yet, it is much more than a landscape painting. The music connects with a place buried dark in the human psyche, leaving the listener shaken as though by a vision.
For those who have not yet sampled the music of MacMillan - perhaps discouraged by the increasing hostility of certain London critics - the disc is a fine introduction. Those who already know and love this music will find in Swensen's committed readings, further evidence that James MacMillan's music has a wholly uncontrived depth which most contemporary composers have failed to find.