John Rutter and Catrin Finch: Blessing

20 November 2012, 15:02 | Updated: 6 October 2014, 17:26

New arrangements of Rutter's best-loved choral classics, orchestrated for harp and chamber orchestra, alongside new compositions. Album of the Week, 19 November 2012.

A perfect combination of Catrin's sublime harp playing complemented by flute, oboe, the lush tones of Sinfonia Cymru, and music by John Rutter. Thanks to the emotive playing in meditations on The Lord Bless You and Keep You, and Gaelic Blessing, the poignant lyrics from Rutter's choral classics are implicit within the peaceful music.

There's something intrinsically delicate about much of Rutter's music on the album, interspersed with traditional Welsh songs. A notable highlight is Beth Yw'r Haf I Mi, arranged by Rutter, featuring a pared back duet between the harp and the dazzlingly pure tones of soprano Elin Manahan Thomas.

Catrin Finch proves her worth as a notable composer-performer as her fingers dance over the notes in the opening movement of her lively Celtic Concerto, a warm string-infused pastoral classic with a gentle nod to British legends Vaughan Williams and Delius in the second movement, Hiraeth.

Rutter's trademark tunes are back in his latest compositional offering, Suite Lyrique. Lovers of choral gems such as Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day will enjoy the sprightly accented passages and skipping plucked orchestral strings in the Waltz, but listeners might be surprised by the rustic open harmonies in the final Rondeau movement.

Striking a beautiful balance between choral nostalgia and fresh new compositions, this album showcases the talent of today's British musicians.