REQUIEM - John Rutter (1945 -


Requiem was written in 1985 in memory of the composer’s father. The first performance was given in Dallas, Texas in October 1985, and what was conceived as a personal memorial has gone on to become one of John Rutter’s internationally most often-performed choral works, both in church and concert hall.


Unlike the dramatic, large-scale Requiems of Berlioz and Verdi, Rutter’s setting belongs in the smaller-scale, more devotional tradition of Fauré and Duruflé. The choral forces do not need to be large, there is only one soloist, the instrumentation is restrained, the duration less than forty minutes. As with Fauré and Duruflé, the Latin text of the Missa pro defunctis is not set in its entirety, the chosen portions being those which underline a theme of light and consolation emerging out of darkness and despair; and as with more than one twentieth-century Requiem, vernacular texts are interwoven with the traditional Latin. There are two psalms associated with the rite of burial, the sombre De profundis (Psalm 130) and the serenely confident Psalm 23, each of these settings having an important part for a solo instrument, cello and oboe respectively. In addition, movements 5 and 7 incorporate sentences from the Anglican Burial Service, in the incomparably magnificent English of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer.


The complete seven-movement work forms an arch-like structure: the first and last movements are prayers to God the Father, movements 2 and 6 are psalms, 3 and 5 are prayers to Christ the Son, and the centralSanctus is an affirmation of divine glory.


The occasion of a Requiem is one for reflection and looking back, and, like a number of composers in their Requiem settings, Rutter pays homage to his predecessors – influences including Fauré, Mahler, Howells and Gershwin can be detected, along with the use of Gregorian chant at two key points in the work – but out of these disparate elements a synthesis emerges which has been widely recognized as the composer’s own.


Louise Luegner


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