Rutter: Music for Christmas (CD Review - Classic FM Magazine, 2001)

Those of you who have ever sung in a choir, particularly around Christmas time, will be familiar with John Rutter's huge role in shaping the musical content of carol services up and down the country.  He has arranged just about every carol known to man and his original Christmas compositions, as heard here on this extraordinary disc, epitomise both the joy and intense emotion that the Nine Lessons and Carols service brings with it.  Those of you for whom Rutter is a new name are in for a very special treat.  From the jaunty Shepherd's Pipe Carol, with its vivid portrayal of the starry night sky above Bethlehem, to the sublime and deeply moving What Sweeter Music, Rutter's music is impeccably crafted, melodically rich and entirely infectious.  The attraction of John Rutter also lies in his ability to communicate equally intimately with both adults and children – play this CD to the kids and I promise you, they'll be hooked.  Yet, there's so much else going on in Rutter's pieces, both in the voices and the orchestral accompaniments, that makes this disc extremely satisfying listening.  Listen to the imaginative, rhythmic word-painting in the Donkey Carol and you'll hear just why Rutter is sung all around the world every December.

Polyphony’s approach to this music is perfect in its vocal purity and innocence, and yet it is mature enough for the clean energy that John Rutter's more sprightly music demands.  The orchestral arrangements are superb - the City of London Sinfonia's tight ensemble playing envelops the choir in a warm blanket of sound, complementing it perfectly.  More than a stocking-filler, this disc is surely one of the highlights of the year.

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