James MacMillan, composer
This new disc featuring Polyphony and the Britten Sinfonia conducted by Stephen Layton portrays the ultimate dramatic event in history – the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ, expressed through the raw emotional power of one of Scotland's most distinguished and vital composers, James MacMillan. His Seven Last Words from the Cross, first commussioned and screened by the BBC in 1994, depicts the final seven short sentences uttered, from the mesmerizing opening cadences to the final disturbing hammer-blows of the nails being driven into Christ's hands and feet, leaving the listener to wonder at one of the choral masterpieces of our time. Also presented on this disc are two premiere recordings by the same composer. On the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin for five-part choir and organ was written for the choir of Gonville and Caius College Cambridge in 1997 and is set to the stunning poetry about transformation by the seventeenth-century poet Jeremy Taylor; the Te Deum was written in 2001 to celebrate the Queen's Golden Jubilee. In both works, we have much of the essential MacMillan to savor making this issue indispensible for followers of both MacMillan and Polyphony.