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A Song in Season

Sacred Music by John Rutter

The Cambridge Singers | Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
John Rutter (conductor)

CD: £14.00
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A collection of sacred choral music by John Rutter, featuring a host of previously unrecorded works in glittering performances by the Cambridge Singers and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Conducted by the composer, the disc ranges across the church's year, incorporating music for Christmas, Epiphany, Pentecost, Easter and Harvest-time.

The first album of new anthems and canticles by Rutter since his landmark 2002 recording of the Mass of the Children, this beautifully-packaged release promises to delight both seasoned Rutter followers and new listeners.

Audio learning guides are available for Look at the world and Look to the day from ChoirGuides

Track list

  1. Wells Jubilate
  2. Look to the day
  3. To every thing there is a season
  4. Carol of the Magi
  5. O Lord, thou has searched me out
  6. Most glorious Lord of life
  7. Look at the world
  8. Veni Sancte Spiritus
  9. Lord, thou has been our refuge
  10. I am with you always
  11. The King of Blis
  12. Winchester Te Deum

“With Rutter himself conducting his own, outstanding Cambridge Singers, these excellently recorded performances have a grip and authority hard to equal.”
Recording *****
BBC Music Magazine

“The first full album of new Rutter for seven years ranks among the finest on the Collegium label. One of the year’s recorded choral highlights.” Classic FM Magazine

“This matchless choral feast shows Rutter at the top of his composing abilities. A first class production.” Gramophone

“It is eight years since John Rutter released his landmark recording of Mass of the Children. This new anthology collects together previously unrecorded works composed between 1996 and 2010, and displays all those traits for which Rutter’s music has become deservedly popular: smooth and engaging melodies, haunting halos of orchestration and the knack of understanding just what makes a choir tick. The music ranges from the sparklingly ceremonial (Wells Jubilate and Winchester Te Deum) to a sequence of the deeply contemplative and ruminative, in addition to the more overtly innocent (Look at the World). The programme’s centrepiece is Veni Sancte Spiritus (1998), a substantial, raw and impassioned setting in which Rutter obtains some astoundingly vivid effects in his string writing. The hand-picked Cambridge Singers perform with conviction, warmth and poise. This matchless choral feast shows Rutter at the top of his composing abilities. A first-class production.” Gramophone

“Aficionados of Rutter’s music will be delighted to know that these most recent compositions bear all the hallmarks of his music. All are expertly crafted; the scoring of the accompaniments is a constant delight; the music seems to lie beautifully for the voices; and there’s that characteristic melodic flair. Rutter is a consummate tunesmith and he’s still writing melodies that have immediate appeal and that lodge firmly in the memory. The collection is topped and tailed, as it were, by fine settings of the Morning Canticles, the Jubilate and the Te Deum. Both of these were written for special occasions and they are suitably celebratory in tone.

…there’s much in Rutter’s most recent output to enjoy. For me, the most successful items here, apart from the aforementioned canticles, are the pieces in which Rutter adopts a more serious countenance – without ever sacrificing his instinctive accessibility. The performances by The Cambridge Singers are exemplary throughout and the composer’s direction must be counted as definitive.” MusicWeb International

“Performances are excellent and the recorded sound has the typical Collegium combination of warmth and clarity.” Church Music Quarterly

“John Rutter and his Cambridge Singers are back, and this will definitely please fans of both composer and choir. The reason: the generous (77-minute) program consists entirely of some of Rutter’s ‘more recent sacred pieces’, commissioned or suggested by various cathedrals, guilds, charities, Cambridge University choirs, and even the Worshipful Company of Barbers, whose membership Rutter explains ‘consists mostly of surgeons’. The opening and closing numbers – a Jubilate for Wells Cathedral and a Te Deum for Winchester – with their use of brass, timpani, percussion, and organ, show Rutter at his best in this exuberant, celebratory style.

Throughout is a mixture of very familiar Rutter-esque pieces (think For the beauty of the Earth, or There is a flower, or even What sweeter music) interspersed with some uncharacteristic works, such as the very Walton-like, a cappella The King of Blis, or Veni Sancte Spiritus, written for the special acoustics of the chapel of King’s College, Cambridge, and of course for the exceptional abilities of its resident choir. In this piece Rutter not only ventures into harmonic territory he doesn’t’ usually explore, but its through-composed conceptualization and inspired treatment of text (and very effective orchestration) makes you long for more of this side of a composer who obviously knows the market while holding to very honorable musical values.

You can’t help but be reminded of Benjamin Britten’s opening horn solos for the Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings when you hear Rutter’s trumpet solo opening to the very substantial anthem I am with you always, written for the 900th anniversary of the composer’s local cathedral, Ely, an architectural gem and a marvelous setting for choral singing, whatever the music or occasion.  And speaking of gems, this must be one of Rutter’s most fundamentally beautiful creations from the past five or ten years.

Of course, the singing (recorded at London’s All Hallow’s Church, and, for two selections, in Henry Wood Hall) is sure, confident, and, we can be certain, absolutely consistent with the composer’s vision. Organist, John Birch lets us know he’s there, but only because his playing is rock-solid and tastefully supportive or the choir and various combinations of instruments. The whole production, from programming to performances to sound quality to packaging bears the trademarks of excellence we’ve come to expect from Rutter and his recording/producing team over the years.  Highly recommended.” Classics Today

“Most of these pieces are of recent provenance, conceived for specific occasions, organisations or services.  John Rutter’s melodic gift proves as eloquent and natural today as its always been, whether directed towards memorable modern hymns or compositions crafted within the great tradition of Anglican choral music; O Lord, thou hast searched me out and the Winchester Te Deum splendid among them. Attention to detail and the pursuit of musical excellence run in tandem in Rutter’s performances, considerations shared on this recording by his Cambridge Singers and their accompanists.  The approach conveys the sweetness of Look to the day and I am with you always with convictions.  It’s also fully alive to the wide expressive demands of Veni Sancte Spiritus and Lord, thou hast been our refuge, charging both with irresistible energy. The first album of new Rutter for seven years ranks among the finest releases on the Collegium label. One of the year’s recorded highlights.” Classic FM Magazine

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