Rutter: Requiem (CD Review - BBC Music Magazine, 1997)

Few John Rutter fans will be without a copy of the composer's own Collegium recording of his Requiem. But given the piece's immense and widespread popularity, alternative versions, like this one, are bound to proliferate. The cello-led spiritual 'Out of the Deep' probes deeper waters than the anodyne opening movement, but both are charmingly sung by consistently well-balanced voices. Rutter's instrumentation undoubtedly helps lift the piece, and the subtle Bournemouth woodwind and percussion are enchanting. Rosa Mannion has just the right voice: genuine, unaffectedly beautiful and free from sentiment. Even the Duruflé-like transitions feel unaffected - never glutinous - and a naughtily Brittenesque Sanctus glistens. The dark Agnus Dei is a triumph.

Not, then, merely Gebrauchsmusik, but a lovely piece overall (the Lux aeterna could almost be Parry). It's intelligently textured and particularly well-judged for the forces, whose restraint and lack of frayed edges here are a joy. Only occasionally does the recording reveal just a touch of distortion at climaxes. Who needs big record company 'mood' music when a simple polished gem like this is uniformly ten times better?

There are ten other Rutter pieces on the disc: their styles range from sub-Tavener to sub-Walford Davies to sub-wishwash; but they are all brilliantly mastered. Two gorgeously worded madrigals stand out. This singlecomposer disc is a joy

Roderic Dunnett 

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