WORKS: Gloria; Magnificat; Te Deum
PERFORMER: Elisabeth Cragg (soprano), Tom Winpenny (organ); The Choirs of St Albans Cathedral; Ensemble DeChorum/Andrew Lucas
CATALOGUE NO: 8.572653
The bright, enthusiastically upbeat sentiments of Rutter’s Gloria are specially well suited to youthful voices, and the boys and girls of the combined St Albans choirs disport themselves royally in this recording, pinning the tricksy syncopations of the concluding movement deftly, and relishing their high notes at the soaring conclusion. Using the brass and organ (rather than full orchestral) version of the accompaniment fits the ecclesiastical style of the performance nicely, and overall this is a notably fresh, uplifting account of what remains one of Rutter’s most popular and widely sung creations.
Using the chamber redaction of the Magnificat proves less effective, perhaps unsurprisingly, as the piece was originally written for Carnegie Hall and a choir of over 200 voices. That kind of basic heft is certainly missing from the jubilant opening movement and finale, though the score’s more intimate interludes are done impressively – there’s some lovely ensemble blending on the repeated ‘sanctum nomen eius’, while soprano Elizabeth Cragg sings the tranquil ‘Esurientes’ mellifluously, and conductor Andrew Lucas shapes these quieter moments sensitively.
The Te Deum setting which concludes the disc is, for all that, closer to the choir’s lingua franca, and they give a ringingly confident performance, with resonant clarions on brass stoked by a tellingly deployed swell pedal on Tom Winpenny’s organ. Rutter’s own notes further increase the cachet of this very commendable issue. Terry Blain