WORKS: Mass of the Children; Look at the World; To Every Thing There is a Season; Wings of the Morning; A Clare Benediction
PERFORMER: Joanne Lunn (soprano), Roderick Williams (baritone); Cambridge Singers, Cantate Youth Choir, City of London Sinfonia/John Rutter
CATALOGUE NO: COLCD 129
Composers who infuse new material into the Mass are probably reacting, in part at least, to the oddly pear-shaped form it acquires when removed from a liturgical setting. If this was on John Rutter’s mind while composing his Mass of the Children last year, then he has admirably succeeded in filling out the later stages of the rite: in this case, with texts by Blake and Lancelot Andrewes. Thomas Ken’s morning and evening hymns neatly top and tail the proceedings, while echoes of Britten and Mahler, homages to the tradition of adult writing for infant voices, are comfortable reference points for the ear.
Bright, tuneful and rhythmically alert, the performance matches the character of the music. Restrained yet pointed scoring in the Mass and in various shorter, occasional pieces fits the quite intimate and sleek delivery of the Cambridge Singers, so accommodating to recorded sound. Apart from the Mass, the most interesting tracks are of three a cappella items, including the anthem ‘Come down, O Love Divine’, first heard in Westminster Abbey in 1998. Its angular textures, lying outside the composer’s usual stylistic range, suggest a heartfelt plea for peace amid the musical conflicts raging round the cloister at the time. Nicholas Williams