Timothy Brown / Clare College Choir, Cambridge

Rutter: Requiem

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This is a more intimate version of John Rutter's Requiem, which uses smaller ensembles, enhancing the sense of reassurance that the music and the text offer. Rutter's music is almost always warmly tonal, built with a simplicity in its textures that descends from the tradition of Vaughan Williams. Here, frequently only one or two instruments are used for accompaniment. This, when added to his use of unison voices or only one or two sections of the choir, and his avoidance of extreme animation, is what makes the music so uncomplicated, and, therefore, comforting. The darkest moments of this work, in the Agnus Dei, are not frighteningly dark, but rather, shadowed, and those shadows disappear by the end of the movement. The small Clare College Choir lives up to its name, particularly the soloist, Elin Manahan Thomas. Her voice has a clear, pure sound, with very little vibrato, and she perfectly intones the highest of notes. The London Sinfonietta, reduced to just six musicians here, has recorded the Requiem before, so it is familiar with Rutter's intentions for the work. The anthems and benedictions that follow the Requiem are similarly written with unpretentious, easy appeal, the music matching the spirit of the texts. The disc is filled out with two attractive organ pieces by Rutter, a rare glimpse at his instrumental music. The Toccata is festive in its irregular meter, while the Variations on an Easter Theme are interesting for the countermelodies and filigree that are woven around the melody.

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