Schubert sonatas

Newest Releases

Piano solo and duet
  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


Some items
to consider

Free classical music concerts by Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra.


Moravec - Twelfth Night Recital
15%off £17.21 (until Dec 7)

Katerina Englichová - harp
15%0ff £10.83 (until Dec 7)

  • Today's leading<br>clarinet-piano duo
  • Stellar debut<br>piano recital
  • Clarinet transcriptions Jonathan Cohler
  • Jonathan Cohler & Claremont Trio
  • French clarinet masterpieces
  • Today's leading<br>clarinet-piano duo

Sibelius Symphonies Maazel
4CDs + Blu-ray audio
Special Price £36.75

RVW A Sea Symphony - Elder

Shostakovich Symphony 10 Nelsons

Verdi Requiem

Dvorak Opera Premiere

Grieg, Mendelssohn sonatas




Would you like a hyperlinked weekly summary of the CDs we have reviewed?

Click for further details

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
Classical Editor
Rob Barnett
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
   Stan Metzger
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


CD: AmazonUK AmazonUS
Download: Classicsonline

James MACMILLAN (b. 1959)
Seven Last Words from the Cross (1993) [47:22]
Christus Vincit (1994) [6:18]
Nemo te Condemnavit (2005) [5:17]
... here in hiding ... (1993) [11:40]
The Dmitri Ensemble/Graham Ross
rec. 27-29 March 2008, All Hallows, Gospel Oak, London NW5
NAXOS 8.570719 [70:37]
Experience Classicsonline

There has been a flurry of performance and recordings of Macmillan's music in this, the year of his 50th birthday. This offering from Naxos - at the usual budget price - is from the talented young Dmitri Ensemble under their composer/conductor-director Graham Ross and includes two world premiere recordings. This recording is warmly commended by the composer himself and is a sheer pleasure to listen to.

In the sound-world of this disc, there is a slight echo of the very enjoyable disc of modern choral music by Giles Swayne which I reviewed last year. This is less of a surprise when one sees that both discs were recorded in the same venue - All Hallows church in London's Gospel Oak - and produced by the same engineer, John Rutter, himself a distinguished composer of modern choral religious music.

Although many of Macmillan's works are directly related to his devout Catholic faith, Seven Last Words was first shown on BBC television during Holy Week and is perhaps one of his most frequently performed and best known works. It sets texts from all four of the Gospels to build a composite presentation of the last seven sentences uttered by Jesus. It draws musically on Macmillan's own work Tuireadh - lament, and on Scottish traditional lament music as well as making occasional reference to Bach's Passion chorales.

This powerful work could be expected to be hard to follow. Adding further accompanying works might seem brave. However, the one thematic step which enables this sequence to work is the decision to adopt the theme of resurrection. Christus Vincit is a setting of the twelfth century Worcester Acclamations. Its plainsong-like phrases are punctuated by silence.

Nemo te condemnavit, which follows, is the most recent work on the disc. It is contented, reassuring and positive and is in a capella style - points of similarity with the Swayne choral disc. Taking the theme of forgiveness as expressed in the parable of the woman caught in adultery, it is one of a series of new works for post-communion reflection.  

The final work is another motet, ... here in hiding .... It incorporates the Gregorian hymn Adoro te devote but intercuts the original Latin of St Thomas Aquinas with an English translation by the poet-monk Gerard Manley Hopkins. It has been recorded previously by the Hilliard Ensemble in a version for four solo voices. The present edition is the world premiere recording of the version for ATTB chorus a capella

Seven Last Words
has previously been recorded on Hyperion by Polyphony under Stephen Layton. It received superlative reviews and was a Recording of the Year in 2005. The Naxos disc is a budget version by a newer ensemble. The Hyperion, although more generous in its pairing, is perhaps less satisfactory in its programming. Serious enthusiasts will want both. Those who choose the cheaper Naxos recording will be getting a very enjoyable disc and one which compares very favourably with its Hyperion cousin.

Notwithstanding its inexpensive price, recording, production, singing and playing are excellent. The disc is attractively presented with informative notes by the composer, full lyrics and a cover featuring a painting on the same theme by Graham Sutherland.

The Sixteen have also paid tribute to Macmillan, bringing out with impressive speed a recording linked to their anniversary-studded Thirtieth Choral Pilgrimage. Recorded only in late February 2009, Bright Orb of Harmony, on the choir's own CORO label (COR16069) came out on 30 March 2009. It’s a disc combining music by two of the three composers whose anniversaries are featured in their tour this year: Purcell, the three hundred and fiftieth anniversary of whose birth (1659) is this year, and James Macmillan who celebrates his fiftieth birthday on 16 July 2009.

James Macmillan's fiftieth year is marked by international acclaim. Scots percussionist Colin Currie performs the concerto Veni, Veni Emmanuel in Finland and the St John Passion receives its German premiere in Berlin, this time with staged choreography. Further performances follow in Amsterdam with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra under Sir Colin Davis. Closer to home for British readers, in London the Britten Sinfonia mounts the first fully-staged presentation of his concert piece Parthenogenesis at the Royal Opera House's Linbury Studio Theatre.

Perhaps the most impressive half century birthday tribute, has been in Manchester. There Macmillan has a long history, having studied and taught at the University of Manchester before returning to live in his native Glasgow. The Royal Northern College of Music paid early respects with a three-day festival entitled Raising Sparks: The Music of James MacMillan (28-30 April) a title also used in an earlier Macmillan retrospective at London's South Bank.

A birthday salute is also scheduled at the BBC Proms, where the main work of this disc, the Seven Last Words from the Cross is paired with Haydn's work of the same title in a performance by the BBC Singers and the Manchester Camerata on 20 July 2009. Macmillan is also one of the composers featured in a series on 100 years of British Music on Radio Three's Afternoon on Three this week (w/c 22 June 2009) (also available as audio on demand), with The World's Ransoming, The Seven Last Words, and Symphony No3 (Silence) being broadcast in this mini-series.

Julie Williams

Sections of Seven Last Words
Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do
Woman, behold thy Son! ….Behold Thy Mother

Verily, I say to you, today thou shalt be with me in Paradise

Eli, Eli lama sabachtani?

I thirst

It is finished

Father into Thy hands I commend my Spirit


Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on

Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical


Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Cameo Classics
Prima voce
Red Priest
Toccata Classics

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
Classical Editor
Rob Barnett
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
   Stan Metzger
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Return to Review Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.