RUTTER: Mass of the Children / Shadows / Wedding Canticle

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John Rutter (b. 1945)

Mass of the Children Shadows Wedding Canticle

 Mass of the Children was written towards the end of 2002, and received its firstperformance in February 2003 in Carnegie Hall, New York. The seed of the work probablylay in the inspiring experience I had back in 1963 singing as a member of theboys' choir in the first recording of Benjamin Britten's War Requiem.

The effect of combining children's and adults' voices is unique, and I wantedto write a work that would bring them together in a more joyful context than aRequiem. I had never written a Mass, and it seemed to me a perfect opportunityto interweave texts and music coming from the different perspectives ofchildren and adults. The Latin text of the Missa Brevis provided the framework,but I added a number of English texts to it which are sung by the children orthe soloists. To open the work, I chose Bishop Thomas Ken's morning hymn forthe scholars of Winchester College Awake, my soul, and during theclosing pages the children sing his evening hymn Glory to thee (to thelovely melody associated with it, Tallis's Canon) as a counterpoint to theLatin 'dona nobis pacem' sung by the adults. Thus, the Mass seems to reflectthe events and feelings of a single whole day, from waking to falling asleep.

The accompaniment to Mass of the Children exists in two versions, onefor orchestra, the other for chamber ensemble with organ which is the onerecorded here.

Shadows, written in 1979, is so far my only song cycle, and was commissioned bythe baritone and guitar duo Christopher Keyte and John Mills. The theme of the eightchosen poems, all drawn from the 16th and 17th centuries, is the transient,dream-like quality of life and our perception of it, not necessarily a melancholysubject and one which inspired some especially memorable English poetry at thattime. In writing the music I paid homage to the guitar's illustrious ancestorthe lute and to the English tradition of lute song.

Wedding Canticle, a setting of one of the psalms used in the Anglicanmarriage service, was a present for Tim Brown in 2004 to mark his 25thanniversary as Director of Music at Clare College. The choice of text was his,and the unusual accompaniment medium of flute and guitar came about partlybecause of the light, airy sound quality I was seeking and partly because an exceptionallyfine flautist and guitarist were available from among Clare's undergraduatesthat year. The guitarist, Stewart French, plays on this recording.

John Rutter
Disc: 1
Wedding Canticle
1 Kyrie
2 Gloria
3 Sanctus and Benedictus
4 Agnus Dei
5 Finale: Dona nobis pacem
6 I. Shadows
7 II. Gather ye rosebuds
8 III. Sonnet
9 IV. The Epicure
10 V. Sic vita
11 VI. O Death, rock me asleep
12 VII. In a goodly night
13 VIII. Close thine eyes
14 Wedding Canticle
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