Reviewed by John Irvine
John Rutter is a rare beast: a modern composer who has managed to combine both popularity and critical acclaim. He has earned the respect of musicians, singers and fellow composers as well as with the general public and is regarded as a master tunesmith whose technical ability has always been harnessed to his desire to create tuneful, harmonious and tasteful music for both the Church and the concert hall. Rutter has been described as a composer who has remembered that music is a means of communication and not of alienation. "Requiem" was written a mere 12 years ago in 1985, and it is probably this work above all the rest of his copious output that has boosted Rutter's reputation as a serious composer both here and abroad. In style, and scale, it owes more to Paure and Durufle than to Berlioz, or Verdi: it is intimate rather than grand, contemplative and lyric rather than dramatic, consolatory rather than grim, approachable rather than exclusive. It was written in part in response to a bereavement in Rutter's family and the sense of comfort and consolation in it is strongly heartfelt, almost to the extent of overstepping the formal bounds of choral music into traditional or folk music or. as during the second movement "Out Of The Deep", into blues and gospel. This is one of the first albums outside of the Rutter-directed Cambridge Singers recordings to feature his music. Accompanied by several hymns ("God Be In My Head". "A Gaelic Blessing", "A Prayer Of St Patrick") and the first recording of "Hymn To The Creator Of Light", this is a very generous programme clocking in at nearly 70 minutes of first class choral music. Performances are excellent and beyond criticism, and the sound quality is up to the usual superlative standards set and maintained by the Hyperion engineering team. A fine release, and the Best of British in terms of artists. performance and musical material!
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