Rutter: Requiem (CD Review - CD Review UK, 1997)

COMPOSER John Rutter made a great impression on a Torquay audience, when he came to speak to Torbay Recorded Music Society earlier this year.

A new full-price Hyperion disc of his choral music, comprising the Requiem (almost 36 minutes) and several other pieces written for a host of varying occasions, is easy to recommend. It is sung by Polyphony with the Bournemouth Sinfonietta, conducted by Stephen Layton.

Rutter's music is always approachable, for which he offers no apology; indeed, writing in the excellent programme note he declares that "given a choice between critical approbation and a chance of touching the hearts of people outside the limited circle of contemporary music aficionados, I know which I prefer."

His Requiem follows not in the dramatic path Berlioz or Verdi but is more in the contemplative style of Brahms, Duruflé and particularly, Fauré. It is made up of a personal selection of texts, some of them from the Requiem Mass and from the l662 Book of Common Prayer.
So we have Requiem aeternam, Pie Jesu, Sanctus, Agnus Dei and Lux aeterna, along with two settings of psalms (Out of deep and The Lord is my shepherd). There are many moments of contemplation, of joy (particularly in the Sanctus, with its bells), along with the hint of deeper mysteries in the Lux aeterna.

The whole disc is marvellously sung and accompanied, with soprano Rosa Mannion offering a distinguished contribution in the PieJesu. There are some absolute gems of miniature choral writing in the other Pieces, and this disc will become a treasured possession of many listeners. If the members of Torbay Recorded Music Society are wondering what to give their musical friends for Christmas… they should look no further.


Mike Thompson 

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