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John Rutter - The Tewkesbury Collection

Rutter / Tewkesbury Abbey Schola Cantorum
Release Date: 01/08/2013 
Label:  Delphian   Catalog #: 34107   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  John Rutter
Performer:  Gavin WellsCarleton EtheringtonChristopher BorrettJuliet Tomlinson,   ... 
Conductor:  Benjamin Nicholas
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tewkesbury Abbey Schola Cantorum
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 10 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Ben Nicholas has been Director of the Tewkesbury Abbey Schola Cantorum since 2006 and during his time with them he’s made the choir into a very good one, as evidenced by the series of very good recordings that they’ve made together for Delphian. Now he’s leaving Tewkesbury as his post as Director of Music at Merton College, Oxford becomes full time.
 
For his valedictory recording he’s chosen a programme of music by John Rutter. Some might think that the world isn’t exactly short of Rutter recordings but I think it’s a pretty fair choice because, in all probability, the Tewkesbury choir will have sung a reasonable amount of Rutter’s music over the last few years. His attractive music is enjoyable to hear and to sing and
Read more so has become a staple of the repertoire of most church choirs. Here Nicholas blends some of Rutter’s best known pieces with some slightly less familiar fare.
 
Inevitably – and rightly - there are some Christmas pieces. Dormi, Jesu was written for King’s College, Cambridge, I believe. It’s one of Rutter’s best-known carols, which is saying something, and deservedly so. Even more appealing is one of my own favourites among Rutter’s seasonal offerings, There is a flower. This lovely piece features Tewkesbury’s star treble, Laurence Kilsby – that’s a voice Ben Nicholas will be sorry to leave behind, I bet – and he does the evocative solos at the start and end of the piece with disarming purity of tone. He can also be heard in The Gift of Charity, a piece which I suspect may be new to disc. The text is a versification by one Selwyn Image (1849-1930) of the famous passage from St. Paul’s Epistle to the Corinthians. Rutter sets the text strophically and with a certain (deliberate?) naivety.
 
There’s nothing naïve about Hymn to the Creator of Light. I’ve admired this piece ever since I had the good fortune to be present at its first performance. That was at an Evensong during the 1992 Three Choirs Festival when the Herbert Howells memorial window was dedicated. The texts which Rutter chose are wonderful and complement each other beautifully. His music is inspired, evoking light very successfully. Unfortunately I have two reservations about this recorded performance. Firstly, I think Ben Nicholas takes the music too slowly. Stephen Layton, conducting Polyphony for Hyperion (CDA66947), adopts a more fluent tempo which is greatly to the benefit of the music; he takes 6:29, over one minute less than Nicholas. Secondly, it’s very rare that I find any fault with the recorded sound on a Delphian disc but here I think the balance has been misjudged. The choir is simply too closely recorded to convey the vital air of mystery and distance that this particular piece requires. In fact, it was this aspect rather than the speed that made me dig out the Layton disc for comparison. Hyperion don’t say where their recording was made but not only is Layton’s choir slightly further away from the microphones, it seems, but also the second choir (Rutter divides his singers into two choirs) seems to be set further back and that produces a lovely perspective, especially in the second half of the piece, from the point where Rutter introduces a slow chorale theme - from 4:08 in the Delphian performance. Despite those caveats I’m delighted to see this fine piece included in the p rogramme.
 
Also very worthy of inclusion is Lord, thou hast been our refuge. This is an extended setting of words from Psalm 90. The choral writing is powerful and in addition to an organ Rutter uses an arresting solo trumpet to accompany the singers. The trumpet part, here played excellently by Gavin Wells, adds drama and a distinctive extra strand to the musical texture. The performance is very good indeed.
 
Among more recent pieces, in addition to The Gift of Charity, we find This is the day, the piece Rutter wrote for the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. It’s a nice piece and if it doesn’t break any new ground perhaps that’s understandable given the occasion for which it was designed. The Tewkesbury performance is a good one. There’s also Ave Maria, a piece I don’t think I’ve heard before. This is a pleasing composition which flows along very persuasively even though the time signature is an irregular one – the piece is in 5/8 time.
 
From its title you might think that As the bridegroom to his chosen is another wedding piece but I don’t think it is. It’s an attractive offering with one of those typical Rutter tunes that sound so easy to write, except that I’m sure they’re not. I like this piece very much but I fear that Ben Nicholas takes it too slowly. I have a recording conducted by Rutter himself which is taken at a much more flowing tempo (COLCD 112). Rutter despatches the piece in 3:22 without sounding at all perfunctory and it’s noticeable that Stephen Layton on another Rutter disc he made for Hyperion (CDA67259) adopts a tempo that’s virtually identical to the composer’s. I’m afraid that in taking 4:11 Nicholas makes the music seem somewhat earthbound.
 
Still, despite one or two reservations there’s much to enjoy here in a varied and enjoyable programme. The generally very good singing by the choir is testament to the excellent work that Ben Nicholas has done at Tewkesbury over the last six years. I don’t know who will follow him as director of the choir but it’s to be hoped that whoever is chosen will build on the firm foundations that Ben Nicholas has established. I should also say that, apart from the one reservation detailed above, the recording is up to Delphian’s usual very high standard as is the booklet.
 
-- John Quinn, MusicWeb International Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Lord, thou hast been our refuge by John Rutter
Performer:  Gavin Wells (Trumpet), Carleton Etherington (Organ)
Conductor:  Benjamin Nicholas
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tewkesbury Abbey Schola Cantorum
Venue:  Tewkesbury Abbey 
Length: 11 Minutes 30 Secs. 
2.
Dormi, Jesu by John Rutter
Performer:  Carleton Etherington (Organ)
Conductor:  Benjamin Nicholas
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tewkesbury Abbey Schola Cantorum
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
Venue:  Tewkesbury Abbey 
Length: 5 Minutes 18 Secs. 
3.
This is the day which the Lord hath made by John Rutter
Performer:  Carleton Etherington (Organ)
Conductor:  Benjamin Nicholas
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tewkesbury Abbey Schola Cantorum
Venue:  Tewkesbury Abbey 
Length: 5 Minutes 4 Secs. 
4.
Carol of the Magi by John Rutter
Performer:  Christopher Borrett (), Juliet Tomlinson (Cello), Carleton Etherington (Organ)
Conductor:  Benjamin Nicholas
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tewkesbury Abbey Schola Cantorum
Venue:  Tewkesbury Abbey 
Length: 5 Minutes 27 Secs. 
5.
As the bridegroom to his chosen by John Rutter
Performer:  Christopher Monk (), Carleton Etherington (Organ)
Conductor:  Benjamin Nicholas
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tewkesbury Abbey Schola Cantorum
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
Venue:  Tewkesbury Abbey 
Length: 4 Minutes 11 Secs. 
6.
Requiem: The Lord is my Shepherd by John Rutter
Performer:  Carleton Etherington (Organ), Alexandra Lowdon (Oboe)
Conductor:  Benjamin Nicholas
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tewkesbury Abbey Schola Cantorum
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1985; England 
Venue:  Tewkesbury Abbey 
Length: 5 Minutes 9 Secs. 
7.
Ave Maria by John Rutter
Performer:  Carleton Etherington (Organ)
Conductor:  Benjamin Nicholas
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tewkesbury Abbey Schola Cantorum
Period: 20th Century 
Venue:  Tewkesbury Abbey 
Length: 3 Minutes 22 Secs. 
8.
Lord bless you and keep you by John Rutter
Performer:  Carleton Etherington (Organ)
Conductor:  Benjamin Nicholas
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tewkesbury Abbey Schola Cantorum
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
Venue:  Tewkesbury Abbey 
Length: 2 Minutes 52 Secs. 
9.
A prayer of St Patrick by John Rutter
Performer:  Carleton Etherington (Organ)
Conductor:  Benjamin Nicholas
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tewkesbury Abbey Schola Cantorum
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
Venue:  Tewkesbury Abbey 
Length: 1 Minutes 48 Secs. 
10.
Hymn to the Creator of Light by John Rutter
Performer:  Carleton Etherington (Organ)
Conductor:  Benjamin Nicholas
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tewkesbury Abbey Schola Cantorum
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 1992; England 
Venue:  Tewkesbury Abbey 
Length: 7 Minutes 43 Secs. 
11.
Wells Jubilate by John Rutter
Performer:  Carleton Etherington (Organ)
Conductor:  Benjamin Nicholas
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tewkesbury Abbey Schola Cantorum
Venue:  Tewkesbury Abbey 
Length: 5 Minutes 18 Secs. 
12.
God be in my head by John Rutter
Performer:  Carleton Etherington (Organ)
Conductor:  Benjamin Nicholas
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tewkesbury Abbey Schola Cantorum
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
Venue:  Tewkesbury Abbey 
Length: 1 Minutes 49 Secs. 
13.
The Gift of Charity by John Rutter
Performer:  Carleton Etherington (Organ)
Conductor:  Benjamin Nicholas
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tewkesbury Abbey Schola Cantorum
Venue:  Tewkesbury Abbey 
Length: 4 Minutes 28 Secs. 
14.
There is a flower by John Rutter
Performer:  Carleton Etherington (Organ)
Conductor:  Benjamin Nicholas
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tewkesbury Abbey Schola Cantorum
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
Venue:  Tewkesbury Abbey 
Length: 4 Minutes 43 Secs. 
15.
A Choral Amen by John Rutter
Performer:  Carleton Etherington (Organ)
Conductor:  Benjamin Nicholas
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tewkesbury Abbey Schola Cantorum
Period: 20th Century 
Venue:  Tewkesbury Abbey 
Length: 1 Minutes 22 Secs. 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  3 Customer Reviews )
 Tewkesbury Choir Celebrates Rutter April 6, 2013 By Herschel V. Anderson (Mesa, AZ) See All My Reviews "The Choir of Tewkesbury Abbey have beautifully recorded a selection of John Rutter's familiar hymns and some not so often heard. The first recording, LORD, THOU HAST BEEN OUR REFUGE, sets the level of musical quality. The choir is accompanied by a trumpet soloist where each complements the other while further accompanied by the organ. In other of the fifteen hymns, individual choristers and lay clerks perform solos. A cello accompanies one and an oboe another. The sound quality is amazingly clear for having been recorded in that high Norman nave ot the Abbey. I give this recording five stars because of this quality and heartily recommend it for anyone who enjoys outstanding choral music." Report Abuse
 Outstanding Recording March 14, 2013 By N. Edwards (Beulah, MI) See All My Reviews "I find the John Rutter "The Tewkesbury Collection" an outstanding recording, both musically and sonically. The Rutter works are sung flawlessly and with amazing blend and expression by both the boys and mens choirs, and the selection of pieces is wonderful. I particularly enjoy the one written for the Royal wedding, "This Is the Day." It is not only beautifully sung, but the recording engineer is to be commended on the capture of the "cathedral sound." The organ playing is strong, but not overwhelming or inappropriate as accompaniment." Report Abuse
 Rutter Rocks! February 11, 2013 By Christine B. (Howard Beach, NY) See All My Reviews "I absolutely love this CD! I listen to it over and over again in my car. I have long admired Rutter as a composer, his works run the gamut of exquisitely beautiful to sometimes unusual. What a treat to listen to a CD that is made up of entirely his compositions. As a member of two different choral groups, I have had the pleasure of singing quite a few of his works, including the Requiem, which I think is one of the most beautiful and unusual ones ever written. One part of it, the exquisite "The Lord is My Shepherd" is on this CD. The choral group he chose sings his works with breathtaking precision. If you are a fan of Rutter like I am, I highly recommend this CD. You will enjoy it immensely." Report Abuse
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