The John Rutter Collection

COMPOSERS: John Rutter
LABELS: Universal
PERFORMER: John Rutter
CATALOGUE NO: 472 622-2

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I used to like to believe there were two John Rutters: the one who recorded tasteful, intelligently sequenced, beautifully sung collections of classic a cappella masterworks with his crack chamber choir, the Cambridge Singers, on his own Collegium label; the other who churned out indigestibly saccharine settings of Christmas carols by the sackful.

Sadly, Collegium’s latest release, THE JOHN RUTTER CHRISTMAS ALBUM (CSCD 510, £9.99) — a compilation of 23 of the composer’s greatest hits, as recorded by him with the Cambridge Singers, including such distinguished former members as the Canadian baritone Gerald Finley — proves that the two JRs are indeed one and the same.

Or does it? For, lo and behold, if Universal hasn’t just released THE JOHN RUTTER COLLECTION (472 622-2), another compilation of 23 of the composer’s greatest hits, as recorded by him with the Cambridge Singers, including such distinguished… Could one man really have recorded two competing collections of his own music for rival labels?

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Well, a man of Mr R’s canny commercialism could (and cleverly there are only three overlaps between the two). And yet… is the John Rutter who made the cleverly mock-Handelian arrangement of’Joy to the World’ on Collegium really the same as the one who sanctioned the cheesy, souped-up sound and tacky synthesised rhythm track of ‘For the Beauty of the Earth’ on Universal? Doubting Thomases, and confirmed Rutterites, will have to buy both discs to find out!