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.
Edward Watson takes the role of Crown Prince Rudolf in Kenneth MacMillan's compelling ballet, which lives out the final eight years of Rudolf's life and its relentless downward spiral of political intrigue, drugs and murder. The ballet culminates with a suicide pact at a hunting lodge between Rudolf and his 17-year-old mistress, Mary Vetsera. “…while Mara Galeazzi as Mary Vetsera nearly stole the show with her natural conviction, exuberance and authoritative technique, the evening belonged to Watson as Rudolf, one of the most challenging male roles ever created.” Sunday Express
In 1974, British choreographer Kenneth MacMillan in turn decided to focus on the two protagonists for an ambitious ballet that could translate the feelings and emotions of two souls abused by the accidents of life and their own personal weaknesses. In short, how a young girl on her way to a convent manages to elope with the young student with whom she has just fallen in love, only to leave him to escape destitution and finally allow herself to be persuaded by her brother Lescaut to yield to the advances of wealthy “protectors”. Accused of prostitution and deported to Louisiana, Manon is rescued by Des Grieux. Driven to murder by Manon’s jailer, he escapes with her into the marshes where the young girl ultimately succumbs. Although sincere, the love that Manon and Des Grieux share for each other cannot stand up to the vagaries of existence. As a result, neither is able to escape moral or social decline. Rather than reuse the score of Massenet’s opera, MacMillan entrusted Leighton Lucas with the task of arranging a series of extracts taken from a selection of the French composer’s operatic, symphonic and vocal scores… The end result was a huge success from its debut performance in London in 1974 onwards.