Andrew Lucas

Rutter: Gloria; Magnificat; Te Deum

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John Rutter's Gloria is probably his most frequently recorded, large-scale piece. Written in 1974, it was his first major international commission and it remains one of his most popular works. He was given explicit instructions to make it accessible, "so that a non-specialist audience could enjoy the music on first hearing," and that approach has characterized the bulk of his output, resulting in a divided assessment of his work: popularity with many audiences, but dismissiveness from critics and many professional musicians. The 40-minute Magnificat (1990) and Te Deum (1988) inhabit much the same aesthetic sphere as the Gloria: lyrical, perkily melodious, and, depending on one's perspective, either skillfully or slickly constructed. This music is already well enough represented on disc that this album from Naxos featuring the choirs of St. Albans Cathedral and Ensemble DeChorum, led by Andrew Lucas, does not make an especially compelling entry to the field. The problem is the choral sound; the boys and girls of the choirs, constituting the soprano section, sometimes have a blanched, almost bleached sound that's especially unappealing when the section is singing by itself. The tenor section, too, is uneven, sometimes sounding thin and pinched. Soprano soloist Elizabeth Cragg is adequate, but her sound is somewhat small. The recorded sound tends to be distant and is not especially lively.

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