HUTTER Secular Choral Music
Gregory Hutter wrote these 10 songs for chorus during what he described as ‘a challenging creative period’. But while each song reflects an intense personal experience, they are richer for that. They similarly benefit from Hutter’s hearkening profoundly back to idealised sentimental times while so deeply in the present that he cannot help but hear the poetry in terms of current realities.
Throughout, Hutter’s supernally beautiful writing for inner voices illuminates texts with his measured pacing, rhythms and cautious close harmonies, the poetry in the words and then the music. He moves not metrically but in dialogue; and he clearly adores the poetry he’s setting, combining a cowboy’s wounded heart with an eternal trust in love. He can be totally Currier and Ives, as in his use of bells in Wilfred Owen’s sweet ‘Winter Song’. His ‘Blow, blow, thou winter wind’ starts like a happy ‘Erlkönig’, raising thoughts of Schubert setting Shakespeare in English.
But his deepest interests here reveal themselves in moments of personal experience. The identification he and the singers have with the hidden dimensions of Sara Teasdale’s ‘I love you’ (last of the Three American Madrigals) makes you feel they’ve all been there before, one time or another. His transforming treatment of Carl Sandburg’s ‘Under the Harvest Moon’ is erotically charged.
With keen theatrical timing, Hutter offers two settings of Walt Whitman’s ‘Tears’. The first (also from the Three American Madrigals), for chorus, has a searing sadness, like Patsy Cline singing ‘Crazy’. The second, rescored for four female singers and sung by a multitracked Shannon Seay, has a remote, ethereal quality that’s just right for the last track on the CD.