Rutter I My Best Loved's Am

Interesting performances from a German choir and a likeable selection

Author: 
John Steane

Rutter I My Best Loved's Am

  • I my Best-Beloved's am
  • Cantate Domino
  • Musica Dei donum
  • Deck the Hall
  • Hymn to the Creator of Light
  • Birthday Madrigals
  • (5) Traditional Songs
  • (5) Childhood Lyrics

In an introductory note, the composer welcomes this, 'the first major recording of my choral music from a German-based choir'. They have moved the furniture round a bit, and the room appears in a new light: so it seems to him, and he likes it. So (for what it is worth) do I, though it must be said that where comparisons have come to hand I have liked his own recordings with the Cambridge Singers still better.

This is in the Five Childhood Lyrics where the room (to pursue that analogy) is a rather lighter, sunnier place. This new recording has a more reverberant acoustic, the choir is somewhat bigger, and the speeds, never faster, are sometimes appreciably slower. The singing is fine: this is a tremendously accomplished, imaginatively directed choir, and they have obviously taken to Rutter's music, as most choirs do. It's just that there is a fresher feeling about the Cambridge sound: like the difference between sunshine and electric light.

These Childhood Lyrics are delightful compositions. Written in 1973, they are the earliest of the four groups in the programme - 'I my best-beloved's am' (1999 and first of the Five Sacred Pieces) being the most recent. All are fertile in ideas and expertly written for the voices. The over-sweetening, at which taste sometimes rebels, is not much in evidence here, and in each group or set there is enough that is brisk or thoughtful to counteract the more relaxed and indulgent passages. The catalogue does not list another complete recording of the Five Sacred Pieces as an entity, though the items have been recorded separately.

It should be added that the choir's English is excellent, though, as with other foreign choirs, the little word 'the' betrays them. They produce some fascinating sonorities among the lower voices and never sound less than fully engaged: a credit to Nicol Matt, their gifted conductor.

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