MacMillan - The World's Ransoming; The Confession of Isobel Gowdie (LSO, Davis) CD
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James MacMillan: The World's Ransoming & The Confession of Isobel Gowdie
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The Confession of Isobel Gowdie confirmed Scottish composer James MacMillan as a major talent in 1990. Its inspiration - the brutal execution of a 17th-century 'witch' - brought from him a score of enormous energy and compassion. Commissioned by the London Symphony Orchestra, The World's Ransomingis a reflection on the liturgies of Maundy Thursday.
'Davis brings this music into such vivid focus ... readings of truly visionary intensity. Stunning recorded sound' -- International Record Review
Top customer reviews
It is true that MacMillan's choral work has a lot more publicity of late, and speaks more directly to human emotions, but we cannot take away the incredible impact of these works.
The first, 'The Confession of Isobel Gowdie', was a sensation when premiered at the BBC Proms, and demands your full attention and total immersion into the energy and compassion of the piece, that should be on the shelves of all budding enthusiasts of relevant, and current musics.
The second, 'The World's Ransoming', was a commission for the LSO, and is MacMillan's personal reflection on the liturgies of Maundy Thursday. A thoroughly engaging piece of intense drama, and subtle humility, MacMillan surpasses himself and delivers another piece fit to go alongside '-Isobel Gowdie'.
This CD is very good value for money, and the recording quality is excellent.
The performance is (as expected) one of the best interpretations of these modern masterpieces, and its release is telling...MacMillan is one of few modern composers to be performed on the LSO label, and this recording is an essential release for any fan of modern, and formative musics of western classical music.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
I would describe MacMillan as a “late modernist”. His writing is often atonal and astringent, but he blends in diverse elements. I personally preferred “The World’s Ransoming”, among the two compositions found here. The English horn solos, built from limited cells of pitch turning around themselves in different patterns and rhythms, is maybe the most grabbing portion of the disc. MacMillan’s incorporation of diverse styles gives “The World’s Ransoming” a bit of a schizophrenic quality (used in its non-clinical sense, of course). There are louder and blunt atonal outbursts contrasted with a baroque quotation contrasted in turn with the meditative writing for English horn solo. If asked the question what is the style of “The World’s Ransoming”, I don’t think I could answer. It’s a patchwork quilt.
“The Confession of Isobel Gowdie” is to me a more traditional modern work. It begins with a very tranquil static passage that is reminiscent of the US composer John Adams but evolves into violence, befitting the composition’s topic of persecution and hysteria. The way this quiet introduction evolves into frenzy is impressive. There’s no doubting MacMillan’s technical skills as a composer. That said, the central section sounds very much like many atonal orchestral compositions from the last few decades.
The music is presented in the best possible light, with top-notch execution. Colin Davis leads the London Symphony and they perform the music very well. The recordings are live and date from 2003 (“The World’s Ransoming”) and 2007 (“The Confession of Isobel Gowdie”). The sound engineering was done using the DSD (Direct Stream Digital”) technology which has so impressed audiophiles and, although it is a transmitted here as an ordinary redbook CD, generally sounds very good.
I was not enamored with this music, but MacMillan’s obvious talent and the quality of the performance come through well here.
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