PERFORMER: Olivia Robinson (soprano), Edward Price (baritone), Jane Watts (organ); The Bach Choir; Southern Sinfonia/David Hill
CATALOGUE NO: 8.572317
Strings, harp and organ – the original Bach Choir commission for this Requiem specified the work should be for the same forces as Fauré’s masterpiece. Carl Rütti’s finished product, however, feels an altogether bigger-boned, more explicitly dramatic composition: nowhere in the Fauré is there anything approaching the ferocity of the wrenching string writing introducing the Kyrie, nor the surgingly operatic imprecations of its soprano and baritone soloists. In stark contrast, the work both begins and ends a cappella, the soprano symbolising, as Rütti comments, ‘that we enter and leave life weak and alone’. These are arrestingly imagined, moving moments.
Rütti’s idiom is hard to describe without making it sound derivative – broadly tonal, certainly, but even at its most obviously ‘accessible’ (in the intimately lyrical Agnus Dei) with enough happening texturally and harmonically to interest a more sophisticated palate. Some of string writing (in the ‘Communio’, for instance) does recall Fauré, but with a more troubled undertow, and overall Rütti’s voice is unquestionably distinctive. The Bach Choir has clearly taken this Requiem to its collective heart (by no means an automatic reaction to a commission!) and performs it with involving fervency under the experienced direction of the excellent David Hill. Terry Blain