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This is the Day: Music on Royal Occasions

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  • Posted August 5, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Cashing in on the Diamond Jubilee celebrations, John Rutter and

    Cashing in on the Diamond Jubilee celebrations, John Rutter and his Cambridge Singers offer this disc of "royal" music, most of it associated with weddings and funerals (thus sparing us yet another "Zadok the Priest"). While it's a program of great variety--some of the choruses unaccompanied, the rest with either organ or orchestra--it's also rather a hotchpotch stylistically. Rutter adds some new arrangements for this disc, but his own original piece, commissioned for the latest royal wedding, is indistinguishable from most everything else he's ever written. Elin Manahan Thomas does a nice job on her Handel and Mozart solos. The Choral Dances from Britten's opera Gloriana, though an odd fit here, give the singers something to sink their teeth into, and they go at them with great gusto, if with little attention to diction. It all sounds good enough, but is curiously faceless. Booklet has texts and detailed, though rather slapdash, notes.

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  • Posted July 7, 2012

    Glorious works enhance Cambridge performance

    Royal occasions for music require beautiful, memorable melodies presented for awe-inspiring pomp. So this CD includes some of the most gorgeous songs and compositions in memory for the British public. The music selections for the program are flawless, the cover impressive, the booklet brimming with interesting history and details, and the choir and conductor well-regarded and famous. These compositions have been performed during the sixty-year reign of Elizabeth II for weddings, coronation, and funerals—a memorable collection.


    With due admiration and respect for the compositions, somehow the listener’s devoted attention wanders during the performance. Although in excellent pitch, the first soprano solo has inconsistent tone quality, and the altos and men are relegated to supporting the soaring, ethereal, ever-floating sopranos. While pleasant, there is a “same-ness” to the pieces due more to the singers and conductor than to the musical selections. It all sounds like Rutter. The overall impression is of beautiful cake frosting with sugar icing on top.


    A high school or church choir would benefit immeasurably from this collection—to learn new work, and to explore the composers and taste of the British monarchy. The “ladies” ever shine while the tenors and basses have a moment from time to time—e.g., Track 20 of Britten’s Choral Dances. The organ would bring welcome substance with more aggressive registration and presence. With the finest ingredients of musical program in the world, hearing much the same for 75 minutes leaves a bit of disappointment.

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