Fans of John Rutter’s choral music will delight in this collection of eight of his best-loved works transcribed for solo piano, including ‘The Lord bless you and keep you’, ‘All things bright and beautiful’, and ‘For the beauty of the earth’, as well as recent gems like ‘A flower remembered’ (the title of the new recording of these piano transcriptions).
Rutter has enjoyed a long career, first coming to notice as a composer and arranger of Christmas carols and other choral pieces. Today his compositions are performed all over the world and he is one of the most popular and acclaimed composers of choral music active today. During the period of lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Rutter returned to some of his most cherished choral works and transcribed them for solo piano. The result is a collection of attractive and approachable pieces to be enjoyed be pianists of cGrade 6 to 7 level. The majority of the pieces are restful and meditative, both to listen to and to play, while two are more lively: ‘For the Beauty of the Earth’ is particularly upbeat and joyful, with a very pretty accompaniment to the catchy melody.
The pieces retain much of the character of their choral originals, but are skillfully arranged to challenge and delight the solo pianist. From a technical point of view, there are octaves, contrapuntal voicing, and large chords. There is plenty of scope to shape melodic lines and inner voices, and each piece offers plenty of opportunities for expressive playing. The arrangements contain Rutter’s original directions and expression marks, and also include the original texts within the piano score for reference and sing-alongs.
The recording of these pieces was made by conductor, organist and pianist Wayne Marshall, who brings much harmonic colour and imagination to these miniatures.
Rutter’s music is immediately appealing, drawing influences from the English and French choral traditions and American popular music. His music has a charming simplicity and emotional freshness, replete with memorable, hummable tunes. For those who are unfamiliar with his music, The Piano Album is a lovely opportunity to get to know it better.
The John Rutter Piano Album is available via digital download or in sheet music form, published by OUP. The Piano Collection is available on the Decca label and via streaming platforms.