Continuing their work with Scotlands most prominent living composer, James MacMillan, Harry Christophers and The Sixteen will release the premiere recording of his exquisite new work Miserere for the CORO label in November. The Sixteens UK premiere of the Miserere at the 2010 Spitalfields Festival won both public and critical acclaim. Based on Psalm 51, the Miserere mei has been set to music many times over the centuries but few composers have tackled the complete text. Allegri was one such composer, whose reputation rests on that single work. CORO is delighted to release the first recording of James MacMillans 21st-century take on the text. The group is renowned for its work with the Scottish composer, and his O bone Jesu - a piece composed especially for The Sixteen and written in emulation of his countryman Robert Carvers 19-voice O bone Jesu - was part of the ensembles 2002 and 2009 Choral Pilgrimage tours and features on this new CD. The disc also contains a selection of The Strathclyde Motets and the Tenebrae Responsories.
The Sixteen's uniquely warm and graceful sound certainly seems to have tapped a particularly timeless and atmospheric vein in MacMillan's creative persona and he has here presented them with something which tests not so much their collective virtuosity as their most profound musical instincts. This disc bears testament to a rare and wonderful relationship between composer,choir and conductor.Long may it continue. --Gramophone,Nov'11
This terrific release offers anourishing blend of recent MacMillan, beautifully performed and recorded. ***** --Classic fm Magazine,Dec'11
James MacMillan has always shown a flair for dramatic portrayals of spiritual conflict: light against dark, anxiety and despair against consolation. It is blazingly evident in these choral pieces, which conjure astonishing sounds from just 16 voices, and also at times a distinctly folk-like flavour. Technically they often pose huge demands, especially the slithering descents and chromatic shifts in the setting of the Tenebrae. The Sixteen surmount them all triumphantly, and make a sound of impassioned warmth and pinpoint accuracy.CD OF THE WEEK --Daily Telegraph,18/11/11
The Sixteen excels in this type of repertory and the performances demonstrate their sheer professionalism. This is a richly rewarding release. --IRR,Dec'11
Newcomers to MacMillan should find the Miserere an excellent place to start (well done Coro for putting it first).With everything superbly recorded, this is a disc to return often, and in which to discover new things each time. Performance ***** Recording ***** --BBC Music Magazine,Jan'12
A disc of MacMillan from the Sixteen under Christophers promises much and the results don't disappoint. A superlative disc. ***** --Choir and Organ,Nov/Dec'11
Critics' Choice 2012 --Gramophone, Christmas '12