GMG Classical Music Forum

The Music Room => Composer Discussion => Topic started by: Guido on September 12, 2010, 04:37:05 AM

Title: John Rutters rut
Post by: Guido on September 12, 2010, 04:37:05 AM
I've just listened to the mawkish kitsch fest that is his Requiem... Is he being serious here? He's too intelligent a person to not know quite how kitsch and sentimental his music is - so is he doing it just to make money? Or is this genuinely an expression of himself? Not sure which is worse.

I have heard a couple of choral things by him that I thought were excellent, and all his music is masterful in its own way - completely achieves what he seems to want to achieve. But it's completely ersatz religiosity, he paints in the most saccharine pastel shades, peppered with the oldest clichées culled from sweetest moments of Elgar, Fauré, Debussy, RVW, Korngold and John Williams to create the most "chocolate box" image of christian choral music imaginable.

Am I being too harsh? What do people recommend?
Title: Re: John Rutters rut
Post by: karlhenning on September 12, 2010, 04:52:53 AM
You're perfectly right that it's all capably put together.  And perfectly right that there's a distressing imbalance in quality.  Of a dozen or so Rutter anthems I've had occasion to sing over the years, there is not a single one I should willingly perform again. A friend and fellow composer who has had occasion to know a great deal more of the Rutter output assures me that there are a few pieces which are genuinely fine (I don't believe I've run across them, nor am I searching them out), but that . . . well, my friend finds large stretches of the Rutter catalogue no more admirable than is reflected in my own experience.
Title: Re: John Rutters rut
Post by: snyprrr on September 12, 2010, 05:10:38 AM
Who's that painter who paints those "lit from within", cozy scenes,...you know, the really famous guy,...tip of my tongue,...mm,...??? McClintock?, or something?
Title: Re: John Rutters rut
Post by: karlhenning on September 12, 2010, 05:15:19 AM
You're right, Rutter is something of a musical equivalent.

And I'm not going to tell you his name. The name of such an artist is best left forgotten.
Title: Re: John Rutters rut
Post by: Luke on September 12, 2010, 05:35:05 AM
In my line of work there is a lot of Rutter to be got through. I think there was a good one amongst them once.... But in general? No thank you.

Love the title of the thread, Guido - it says it all! The man has a formula, and he sticks to it, which I suppose is fine, except that the formula he follows strikes me a somewhat manipulative. (I have a PM to respond to, I know...)
Title: Re: John Rutters rut
Post by: Archaic Torso of Apollo on September 12, 2010, 05:39:18 AM
It's easy to bash on Rutter, and I don't count myself a fan of his. But a couple of points in his defense.

This Requiem appears to be genuinely popular among amateur choral ensembles. Certainly it gets sung a lot by choirs that can't manage harder stuff. Within this context it is quite successful. There's a place for such music (please don't say "yes, in the waste-paper basket").

As for the music itself, I didn't find it offensive or terribly syrupy (except for the rather sugary opening). There are parts that are quite effective, including a cello solo that is rather nice.

I don't have any recordings of his music, but I do like the Rutter-led album of Byrd motets that I have.
Title: Re: John Rutters rut
Post by: Guido on September 12, 2010, 06:15:43 AM
I think the Requiem is popular because much of it is essentially pop music.
Title: Re: John Rutters rut
Post by: Cato on September 12, 2010, 06:16:19 AM
Who's that painter who paints those "lit from within", cozy scenes,...you know, the really famous guy,...tip of my tongue,...mm,...??? McClintock?, or something?

(http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_02zlkdaxXDs/SxMeHK8G1uI/AAAAAAAADD4/oI1BHr7rHAM/s1600/Thomas_Kinkade_48.jpg)

Maybe Thomas Kinkade (in)famous "Painter of Light" is the one you mean?
Title: Re: John Rutters rut
Post by: Guido on September 12, 2010, 06:22:34 AM
Yes it's exactly this, and offers the same sort of picture of Christianity. Though I think Rutter is more self concious of it...
Title: Re: John Rutters rut
Post by: karlhenning on September 12, 2010, 06:25:23 AM
In Rutter's defense, too, at least I have heard that there are a few worthwhile pieces.  Cannot say that I've heard the same of Kinkade.
Title: Re: John Rutters rut
Post by: Guido on September 12, 2010, 06:45:00 AM
Yes to be fair to Rutter that is true, and he isn't as bad as Kinkade.
Title: Re: John Rutters rut
Post by: Brahmsian on September 12, 2010, 06:47:11 AM
(http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_02zlkdaxXDs/SxMeHK8G1uI/AAAAAAAADD4/oI1BHr7rHAM/s1600/Thomas_Kinkade_48.jpg)

Maybe Thomas Kinkade (in)famous "Painter of Light" is the one you mean?

I thought this was a Saul art work for a second?
Title: Re: John Rutters rut
Post by: Guido on September 12, 2010, 06:50:32 AM
Painting like this requires trained skill.
Title: Re: John Rutters rut
Post by: Cato on September 12, 2010, 02:13:32 PM
Painting like this requires trained skill.

To be sure, Kinkade and Rutter have skills and know their markets.
Title: Re: John Rutters rut
Post by: Mirror Image on September 12, 2010, 04:46:20 PM
I own a box set of Rutter's choral music with the bald-headed turd conducting and the verdict is....BORING AS UNBUTTERED TOAST!!!
 
There is no tension and release in the music. There's nothing interesting harmonically. The melodies makes one think of a Hallmark gift card store, especially around Christmas time when you would just like to punch anything that resembles a Santa Claus.
 
To put it bluntly, Rutter's music is a pathetic joke. Nothing remotely interesting about it.
 
Title: Re: John Rutters rut
Post by: Dax on September 12, 2010, 08:47:29 PM
Indeed.

John Rutter.

Ugh.
Title: Re: John Rutters rut
Post by: karlhenning on September 13, 2010, 03:33:58 AM
Well, not a pathetic joke, though perhaps there is room for some pathos.

As I see it: Rutter is a fellow with some actual talent for composing, maybe not an enormous talent.  And in directing church choirs, there is always occasion to write up something for one's own choir's use . . . it's a very amenable "laboratory," and over time a choir director with any talent for composition soaks in the idiom well enough, that generating tolerable material suitable for use is a task well within reach.  And I readily imagine that the choir themselves would largely respond favorably.  There's enough positive reinforcement 'built into' the model, we might say, that the stage is set for a persistent character to write a great deal.

If only Rutter had more talent, the better to answer to that situation.

Or I should say, more compositional talent; for again, he's certainly a competent writer, and he has been most creative in terms of answering a demand for new-but-digestible Anglican church music.
Title: Re: John Rutters rut
Post by: snyprrr on September 13, 2010, 05:28:28 AM
You're right, Rutter is something of a musical equivalent.

And I'm not going to tell you his name. The name of such an artist is best left forgotten.


Yes, but now it's been mentioned FIVE TIMES!! :o  :-\And,...I really had forgotten his name! >:D I used to work in a framing shoppe, haha!

...aaaaAAAAAAHHHHhhhhhhh....

EVERYONE- IT IS NOW VERBOTEN TO MENTION "THAT" PERSON'S NAME!!!

ve have vaaays!
Title: Re: John Rutters rut
Post by: Harpo on September 13, 2010, 03:38:47 PM
In Rutter's defense, too, at least I have heard that there are a few worthwhile pieces.  Cannot say that I've heard the same of Kinkade.

As a choral singer, I really enjoy Rutter. He's singable, tuneful, upbeat. Nothing wrong with having fun. Sonic and I listen to his holiday albums at Christmas.The first time I encountered Rutter was in the choir of NC School of the Arts. I was delighted, but the conservatory students thought he sounded like John Williams (Star Wars). 

As to the infamous painter TK, you obviously haven't been to his innumerable franchise shops which charge big bucks for inane poster-style prints. "The painter of light" indeed!   Countless artists through the ages have painted light with much more skill and aesthetic value (that goes without saying....)
Title: Re: John Rutters rut
Post by: Guido on September 13, 2010, 05:11:42 PM
Countless artists through the ages have painted light with much more skill and aesthetic value (that goes without saying....)

which is why he can aptly be compared to Rutter. The kitsch is analogous, though TK turns it up to 11, whereas Rutter leaves it at a relatively tasteful 6.
Title: Re: John Rutters rut
Post by: knight66 on September 13, 2010, 10:44:04 PM
A lot of Rutter's work is commissioned. I think he is a fine choral conductor and choir trainer. His music curls my toes. A single three minute slice is fine, but he stays firmly in the sweetie shop and writes middle brow easy listening all the way.

I think that what I find most odd, well artistically offensive, is that he is a self proclaimed nonbeliever, but he has pretty much devoted his artistic life to catering to the Church of England's desire for happy-clappy material supposedly bolstering faith.

We have discussed elsewhere that non believers can provide first rate pieces with a religious theme, but to devote an entire creative life to such a niche when it means nothing to you turns him into a commercial product and nothing more.

Mike
Title: Re: John Rutters rut
Post by: Dax on September 13, 2010, 11:57:53 PM
<nicked from another board>

There is a composer named Rutter
about whom it is heard many utter,
that he likes to eat slugs
and six legged bugs
sautéd in garlic and butter.
Title: Re: John Rutters rut
Post by: mc ukrneal on October 24, 2011, 03:24:04 AM
I recently heard some Rutter and was intrigued. I then read there was a new disc of his from naxos, which looks interesting. As I was reading about Rutter, I came across an article that described Walton as a big influence on his music, so now I am also looking for Walton discs. Interesting how one can lead to another.

As an aside, the composer threads are usually a bit more upbeat than this one. I think if I liked Rutter and came across this thread, I might just slink away so as not to be castigated by the good members here. Personally, I'd be interested to know what the more interesting works are, what are the recordings to go for, etc.