Wednesday, July 6, 2016

New John Rutter disc available from Naxos!

It's summer and the listening is least it should be.  But sometimes, you want a diversion from pop tunes about fun in the sun and great BBQ songs on the patio.  With that in mind, I offer you something completely different and entirely delightful.

Composer and conductor John Rutter is no stranger to Niagara music lovers.  I still remember vividly his appearance with Chorus Niagara in Welland several years ago, when he conducted several of his works and spoke lovingly about his music and the great choirs the world over who perform his works.

If I'm not mistaken it was certainly one of the best-attended Chorus Niagara concerts in memory and for me, selling his music CDs in the lobby at the concert, it was a very busy evening indeed.

It has been awhile now since we have seen any new recordings of Rutter's music, and although a new Naxos disc does not feature him as conductor, it features some of his great choral music in breathtaking new performances sure to please any choral music lover.

Psalmfest is a collection of nine settings for full orchestra, recorded for this new disc for the very first time in its complete form.  The settings are as rich and varied as the original texts, based as they are on the psalms of David, a source of inspiration for composers for many centuries now.  As the liner notes included in the disc describe them, "each text (forms) a poetic shape the equivalent of a gothic arch, and expressing a broad range of timeless emotions.

In his notes accompanying the disc, John Rutter writes:  "The most powerful reason composers remain attracted to the perhaps because they express such a rich gamut of intensely human and timeless emotions:  hope, faith, trust, joy, and wonder - and then, some uncomfortable ones which Christians may struggle with but which everyone has experienced:  self-pity, jealousy, vengefulness, spite, anger, and sometimes a sense of having been abandoned by God."

Psalmfest dates from 1993, so in classical music a fairly contemporary work.  The remaining works on the disc are more recent still, as it includes Rutter's setting of Psalm 150 from 2002, Lord, Thou hast been our refuge from 2008 and This is the day, written for the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2011.

The performances on the disc are first-rate, and include the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra with Andrew Lucas conducting, organist Tom Winpenny, trumpeter Mike Allen, the St. Albans Cathedral Choir and Abbey Girls Choir, and the vocal soloists are soprano Elizabeth Cragg and tenor Pascal Charbonneau.

The full, expansive sound captures the performers perfectly, and was recorded in the Cathedral and Abbey Church of St. Alban in Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom back in 2014.  The recording was made possible by a bequest to the Cathedral by the late Dr. John Birch, organist of the RPO, to whose memory the recording is dedicated.  He passed away in April of 2012 and for many years had worked closely with John Rutter on many of the composer's own recordings over the years.

Sound interesting?  It isn't light summer music by any means, but it is a lovely disc well worth adding to your collection of great choral recordings, and you can do that right now through my website,  I am offering the disc at a special summer discount in order to introduce it to a wider audience.

For just ten dollars you can have a copy of your own, although at that super-low price a modest shipping charge will be added to all orders.  If you would like a copy, just email me directly at with your request and I will respond promptly and get the disc out to you.

Enjoy the summer weather with the music of John Rutter!

July 6th, 2016.

No comments: