David Hill / Bach Choir

Carl Rütti: Requiem

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Swiss composer Carl Rütti has made a specialty of choral and liturgical music, and his work has been performed extensively by British ensembles like the BBC Singers, Cambridge Voices, and the Bach Choir, which commissioned and here performs his 2007 Requiem, scored for soprano, baritone, double choir, strings, and organ. Rütti's Requiem reflects his close connection with the British choral tradition without sounding derivative of any particular composer. He is an eclectic, and it is possible to detect his familiarity with Britten, as well the harmonic and melodic world of John Rutter (although his work is more sophisticated than Rutter's), and there's a hint of Arvo Pärt's austerity in some of the quieter moments, and in Rütti's unashamed use of pure consonance. While the Requiem essentially holds together, the stylistic differences between movements, some as simple as folk song, and some of considerable harmonic and rhythmic complexity, keep the piece from sounding like the work of a composer who has developed a fully integrated voice. Almost all of the movements have strengths, though, and moments of genuine loveliness. The swirling mystery of the Sanctus is especially memorable, and the extended use of an unaccompanied solo soprano to open and close the piece is spectacularly effective. Only the pop-sounding In Paradisium seems like a miscalculation. Olivia Robinson sings with great purity and smoothness, but baritone Edward Price tends to sound strained. David Hill leads the Bach Choir and Southern Sinfonia in a polished and fervent performance. The sound is good when the textures are spare, but gets crowded when the full forces are at a high volume.

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