COMPOSERS: John Rutter
ALBUM TITLE: Rutter
WORKS: Visions; Requiem*
PERFORMER: Kerson Leong (violin), *Alice Halstead (soprano); The Temple Church Boys’ Choir; *The Cambridge Singers; Aurora Orchestra/*John Rutter
CATALOGUE NO: COLCD 139
A violin concerto with a choir in it? John Rutter’s Visions probably isn’t quite a concerto – he doesn’t call it that – but the solo part is certainly extensive, often recalling Vaughan Williams’s The Lark Ascending in shape and atmosphere. It is outstandingly played in this premiere recording by the young Canadian violinist Kerson Leong.
His largely rhapsodic contributions are intertwined and juxtaposed with those of The Temple Church Boys’ Choir, who sing biblical texts related to Jerusalem, mainly in unison and with gleaming tonal quality. The tone of Visions is often lingeringly elegiac, and may well surprise those who associate Rutter primarily with facile tunefulness and chirpy carols.
The coupling is a new recording of the Requiem Rutter first took into the studio 30 years ago. Although his timings for individual movements haven’t altered a jot across the decades, the new version is preferable – the recording has greater clarity and amplitude, and both the singing and playing have a touch more incisiveness and assurance.
In Alice Halstead Rutter continues to favour a soprano with the timbre of a boy treble, and her solos have an innocent fragility which is touching. The sensually expressive choral singing in the ‘Lux aeterna’ caps an authoritative interpretation.