'Annunciations' celebrates Sir James MacMillan's ongoing contributions to sacred music, performed by St Salvator's Chapel Choir. Alongside five of his own pieces, the album includes works by two decisive influences on MacMillan, Benjamin Britten and Kenneth Leighton; two significant contemporaries, John Tavener and Judith Bingham; and six next generation composers mentored by Sir James on the TheoArtistry Composers' Scheme, a collaboration between ITIA (the Institute for Theology, Imagination and the Arts), the Music Centre, and St Salvator's Chapel Choir, in the University of St Andrews.
This attractive mixed programme of Telemann’s works featuring flute or recorder has been designed by Ashley Solomon to celebrate Florilegium’s 25th anniversary. The triple concerto for flute, oboe d’amore and viola d’amore in E major stands out as one of the composer’s most beguiling masterpieces: the limpid opening Andante sounds like a serene evocation of sunrise that anticipates the mature Haydn by several decades; the soloists Solomon, Alexandra Bellamy and Bojan Čičić play with elegant finesse, and also conjure up refined melancholy in an intimately conversational Siciliana. The double concerto for recorder and viola da gamba in A minor is a charming example of Telemann’s taste for synthesising French and Italian musical styles with elements of Polish folk music; Florilegium’s civilised elegance in the French-style Grave, gently Italianate sway in the Allegro, and Solomon’s duet with gambist Reiko Ichise in the Dolce has pastoral sensitivity. At the heart of the programme is Ihr Völker hört, a cantata for solo voice and obbligato instrument that was published in the first instalment of the series Harmonischer Gottes-Dienst. Clare Wilkinson’s softly convivial and articulate singing communicates the cheerful Epiphany text.