Music and Vision homepage

Record Box


John Rutter's
'Mass of the Children',
reviewed by

Naxos    8.557922

John Rutter: Mass of the Children. Choir of Clare College Cambridge, Farnham Youth Choir / Timothy Brown. © 2006 Naxos Rights International Ltd

John Rutter's Mass of the Children was first heard in 2003 in Carnegie Hall, New York, its genesis having apparently been in Rutter's experience, forty years earlier, of being a member of the children's choir in the first recording of Britten's War Requiem. The combination of children's voices with the maturity of an adult choir, accompanied by orchestral textures, is indeed an appropriate canvas for Rutter's naïve musical world of dissonance free, colourful, professionally polished craftsmanship, and is clearly a perfect vehicle to please both performers and listeners alike.

The piece is given a fine performance under Timothy Brown's direction, with soloists Angharad Gruffydd-Jones (soprano) and baritone Jeremy Huw Williams [listen -- track 3, 5:48-6:40].

The Mass weaves the orthodox Latin text into verses by William Blake and the 17th century Bishop Ken, following the structure of a missa brevis, opening with a bright setting of Ken's verses Awake my soul, and with the sun thy daily stage of duty run [listen -- track 1, 0:02-1:40]. This forms the unfolding of a day which closes with a final dona nobis pacem, the evening, which at its end seemed to miss the promised harmonic richness and fall too blandly to its conclusion -- which is nonetheless very beautiful, and typically Rutter [listen -- track 5, 7:33-8:52].

The Choir of Clare College also includes a performance of the short Wedding Canticle, written by Rutter to celebrate conductor Timothy Brown's twenty five years as the choir's Music Director, and a cycle of songs for baritone and guitar (Jeremy Huw Williams again, with Stewart French) which dates back to 1979 and inevitably savours the tradition of English lute songs, setting 16th and 17th century poems with a sure feel for vocal gracefulness, as in this, the third of the cycle, a Sonnet by Samuel Daniel, a bold and underestimated champion of his times, much influenced by the Italian style [listen -- track 8, 0:00-1:19].

Copyright © 6 August 2007 Patric Standford, Wakefield UK


John Rutter: Mass of the Children

8.557922 DDD Stereo FIRST RELEASE 66'45" 2006 Naxos Rights International Ltd

Angharad Gruffydd-Jones, soprano; Jeremy Huw Williams, baritone; The Choir of Clare College Cambridge; Farnham Youth Choir; Clare Chamber Ensemble; Stewart French, guitar; Daniel Pailthorpe, flute; James McVinnie, organ; Timothy Brown, conductor

John Rutter (born 1945): Mass of the Children, for mixed choir, children's choir, soprano and baritone soloists, chamber ensemble and organ (2002) (Kyrie; Gloria; Sanctus and Benedictus; Agnus Dei; Finale (Dona nobis pacem)); Shadows - song cycle for baritone and guitar (1979) (Shadows; Gather ye rosebuds; Sonnet; The Epicure; Sic vita; O Death, rock me asleep; In a goodly night; Close thine eyes); Wedding Canticle (Psalm 128) for mixed choir, flute and guitar


 << Music & Vision home      Recent CD reviews       Married Flutes >>

Download a free realplayer 

For help listening to the sound extracts here,
please refer to our questions & answers page.

Record Box is Music & Vision's regular series of shorter CD reviews