Mstation Classical Reviews

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Thu, 01 Jun 2006

Rutter Mass

Mass of the Children - Rutter
The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge; Farnham Youth Choir
Timothy Brown
CD, Naxos

Seeded from Rutter’s experience in the boy’s choir on the recording of Brittens War Requiem in 1963, this music again combines the voices of children and adults. It wasn’t until pressing play that I remembered I was never that keen on this style of music. It is too happy for me – all the harp glissandos, and flute/piccolo trills. Having just been listening to Mendelssohn it was a bit of a culture shock. However, personal opinion aside, this recording has been exceptionally well pulled off.

The textures within the composition are varied, with wonderfully blended polyphony in both the instrumental writing and the choral writing. This music does tend to fill ones heart with happiness – it seems unavoidable for even the icy hearted of us. The solos are spectacularly presented, with such precise musicality, it could shadow the most popular choirs of the time.

The Agnus Dei unexpectedly presents us with an uneasy, almost frightening atmosphere, with particularly good use of counterpoint, and tubular bells.

What follows the Mass is a song cycle for baritone and guitar. With this I am very impressed. I had not come across such a combination, and will be keen on hearing other such albums. The baritone, Jeremy Huw Williams, has a very pure, rich tone to his properly matured voice. The accompaniment, given to us by Stewart French, is articulate and precise; his conservatoire training clear as day.

We finish with another rare combination, of mixed choir, flute and guitar. They sing a wedding canticle based on Psalm 128. This is a beautiful ending to an album of this genre. (E Walton)

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