John Rutter: The Gift of Life and seven sacred pieces

To celebrate his 70th birthday, John Rutter offers his first major choral work in a decade.

This new album presents eight of John Rutter's recent choral works. The centrepiece is the six-movement The Gift of Life, which reflects different facets of the miracle of creation. It's Rutter's first extended choral work since Mass of the Children, written more than ten years ago, and it has been recorded in very short time since its premiere in April this year.

Unlike a Requiem for the departed where there is a set form of words, the composer found that no framework exists for a celebration of life, so he had to choose – and in some cases, write – texts which were appropriate to the theme. The third movement is the composer's Hymn to the Creator of Light, originally written in 1992 in memory of the composer Herbert Howells.

The other seven pieces included here were written for a variety of occasions; five of them were originally composed for voices with organ or small-scale instrumental forces, but they're heard here with orchestral accompaniments.

And no John Rutter album would be complete with something seasonal. Here the album ends with three new Christmas carols from the master.

The composer has worked for years with the Cambridge Singers and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and their ease and familiarity here makes for a beautifully performed and recorded listen.