ALBUM TITLE: Rutter Choral Works
WORKS: Gloria; Magnificat; Psalm 150
PERFORMER: Choir of King’s College Cambridge, CBSO, Stephen Cleobury
CATALOGUE NO: 557 8962
Listening to this King’s College Choir disc, I feel like a hopeful child of the ‘Game Boy’ era opening a Christmas present and finding tin soldiers. A little nostalgia, perhaps, but quickly tempered by guilty disappointment. I suppose it’s what one should expect of King’s, but fuddy-duddy, safe music-making is not what Rutter’s music needs. The preoccupation with tuning and ensemble results in a lifeless preciousness which does the music no service whatsoever. The collective musicianship of the gathered forces is impressive enough, and this will always out (the orchestral playing is especially sensitive and there are some priceless treble solos). But the phrases do not travel – how can they when their raison d’être is the neatness of the consonant at the end? The opening of the Magnificat is a case in point. And what has happened to the burnished, golden sound of old? There is sometimes a threadbare quality that speaks, tragically, of the diminishment of choral establishments throughout the country.
The recordings of Rutter conducting his own music with the Cambridge Singers remain gleaming beacons of irrepressible music-making, bursting with Schwung. The choir palpably wants to be singing these words set to this music. William Whitehead