This is Chandos' second disc of James MacMillan's work performed by the BBC Philharmonic, featuring the premiere performance of 'Into the Ferment'. James MacMillan is one of Britain's most successful contemporary composers with a high international profile. As well as appearing as guest conductor with many of the UK's top orchestras, he is currently Affiliate Composer of The Scottish Chamber Orchestra, resident of the USA's Saratoga Festival and Composer/Conductor in Residence with the BBC Philharmonic.
Much of James MacMillan's orchestral music is concerned with matters of Christian theology, and his concerto for percussion and orchestra, Veni, Veni, Emmanuel, may be counted among his most religiously inspired pieces. Outwardly, though, it is ambiguous and difficult to distinguish from purely secular music. Since all of MacMillan's motives and chords are derived from the plainchant hymn for Advent, some will listen for its permutations in the complex network of overlapping fragments.
Given its premiere by The Royal Ballet in 1965 with Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn dancing the title roles, Kenneth MacMillan's first full-evening ballet has become a signature work for the Company, enjoying great popularity around the world. From the outset, the production teems with life and colour as the townspeople, market traders and servants of the rival Montagues and Capulets go about their daily business in vibrant crowd scenes. But Romeo and Juliet take centre stage for those great pas de deux: the meeting in the ballroom, the balcony scene, the morning after the wedding and the final devastating tomb scene. Although The Royal Ballet has performed Romeo and Juliet over 400 times, each performance and pairing is subtly different and Lauren Cuthbertson and Federico Bonelli are utterly captivating in the title roles.