December 4, 2021, Royal Festival Hall, the UK premiere of James MacMillan’s Christmas Oratorio, preserved on this London Philharmonic release, a ninety-five-minute score (consisting of Sinfonias, Choruses, Arias and Tableaux) that proves, from the off, to be enchanted, incident-packed, thrilling, beautiful, and dramatic, the listener consistently engaged by the music’s sheer variety, sometimes intriguingly quirky and cinematically colourful, on other occasions deeply contemplative and painterly – always approachable, universal in its outreach, with the capacity to be transcendental yet leap over the footlights with earthy glee that is then contrasted by a raptness that stops time in its tracks. This superb performance, complemented by the recorded sound, is all-round impressive, whether solo singing (Lucy Crowe and Roderick Williams), chorus (London Philharmonic Choir), and with the LPO in magnificent form – the performers galvanised by Mark Elder’s inspiring conducting, the music brought to life. The booklet for LPO – 0125 (2 CDs) includes the texts that MacMillan has set for such rich rewards.

London Philharmonic Choir & Orchestra – Mark Elder conducts the UK premiere of James MacMillan’s Christmas Oratorio.