Rutter: Mass Of The Children / Brown, Clare College Choir

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John Rutter's Mass of the Children was recorded by the composer and his Cambridge Singers shortly after the work's premiere in 2003. That version, for soprano and baritone soloists, children's choir, adult choir, and orchestra, appeared on Collegium Records and was strongly recommended here; for the review, which includes a discussion of the Mass itself, type Q6863 in Search Reviews. The version recorded here by the Clare College Choir (Rutter's former choir) and Timothy Brown (for whom Rutter wrote the Wedding Canticle that concludes the disc) replaces the orchestra with chamber ensemble and organ with no loss of the original's exuberant spirit or essential texture and color. These choirs are every bit as competent and confident as Rutter's own forces, but with a decided edge going to Rutter's more appealing soloists, whose voices are warmer and more technically solid.

Hearing this work again, I was struck by little reminders of other composers and works, such as Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms (Gloria), Fauré's Requiem (Sanctus), and even in the baritone/soprano duet in the Kyrie, a bit of (gurk!) Andrew Lloyd Webber. But these are tiny, endearing moments in a grand and often enchanting work that contains some very clever, catchy, and masterfully written sections for adult and children's choir. Rutter's setting of Blake's poem The Lamb (appropriately part of the Agnus Dei) could stand alone as a concert piece. I also love how Rutter works the tune of Tallis' famous "Canon", sung to Thomas Ken's "Glory to thee, my God, this night", into the closing Dona nobis pacem.

I found it difficult, however, to warm up to Rutter's song cycle Shadows, for baritone and guitar. It has its moments of artful melodic writing and interesting guitar figures, but it often seems as if the two parts are at odds, not comfortable in each other's company. And Jeremy Huw Williams isn't the best advocate: his wide vibrato often obscures pitch, and his phrasing can be inelegant and doesn't always coincide with the musical line. The Wedding Canticle, for the unusual combination of choir, flute, and guitar, is a gentle, lovely piece that has all the marks of Rutter's most beloved style--flowing, inviting melody and a natural rhythmic feel that ideally captures the sense and structure of the text. [4/27/2006]
--David Vernier,

Product Description:

  • Catalog Number: 8557922

  • UPC: 747313292226

  • Label: Naxos

  • Composer: John Rutter

  • Conductor: Timothy Brown

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Clare College Choir, Ensemble Clare, Farnham Youth Choir

  • Performer: Angharad Gruffydd Jones, Daniel Pailthorpe, James McVinnie, Jeremy Huw Williams, Stewart French