Refulgence: it's what the wonderfully sumptuous acoustic of Tewkesbury Abbey adds to the performances of its Schola Cantorum, making a resplendent experience of Lord, thou hast been our refuge, which opens this disc. It's Rutter at his finest, a strongly articulated setting of Psalm 90 with more sinew, less sugar than in some of his more populist pieces. The trumpet obbligato is ringingly played by Gavin Wells.
Even when Rutter's very obviously in crowd-pleasing mode, as in Dormi, Jesu and This is the day (the recent royal wedding composition), the vernal freshness of the Tewkesbury boys' voices strips off the cloying patina more knowing, self-conscious adult voices often add in this music.
There's plenty of technical control in the choir's singing, but it's not imposed with undue rigour. Listen, for instance, to the opening of The Lord is my shepherd, where first the boys, then the men, phrase their unison couplets with a natural fluidity much more difficult to achieve that it is to listen to. Gorgeous oboe playing, too, from Alexandra Lowdon, in chirruping interplay with the voices.
Advent at Merton/Delphian
****Peter Phillips and Benjamin Nicholas elicit high levels of technical and expressive achievement from their student charges