John Rutter – The Gift of Life

If you like John Rutter, then you’ll enjoy his latest album, “The Gift of Life.” Rutter’s style has remained stable and consistent for decades, and these new works run true to form. That consistency can be a plus or a minus, depending on how much you like Rutter’s basic style, that can be either a plus or a minus. Personally, it’s a plus.

The title selection, “The Gift of Life” was written in 2015 — in part as a counterbalance to his 1985 “Requiem.” Of the two, I think “The Gift” is the most successful work. Rutter’s music has a sunny, easy-going spirit to it regardless of the subject matter. While it made his “Requiem” somewhat unconvincing emotionally, it’s ideal for a celebration of life. I found this six-part work both uplifting and inspirational.

Rutter rounds out the release with some other recent works. Of them, my favorite is “O all ye works of the Lord.” It’s is a quintessential British-sounding work, with a big, central hymn tune on par with those in Holst’s “Jupiter” movement or Walton’s “Crown Imperial.”

There is a danger to all this consistency, though — sometimes works can blend together. To my ears, the 2011 anthem “A Flower Remembered,” sounded somewhat like Rutter’s “Angel Carol” slowed down, at least for the first 16 bars.

The Cambridge Singers and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra have a long history with John Rutter, both as a composer and as a producer. The performances and recording quality of this release maintain the same high standards I’ve come to expect from Collegium.

John Rutter: The Gift of Life and seven sacred pieces
The Cambridge Singers
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Collegium Records COLCD 138

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