The greatest privilege
for a musician such as myself is the opportunity to create
and record wonderful music with fellow musicians and composers.
I first met John one afternoon at a London hotel where we sat
down for a cup of tea to discuss the possibility of his writing
a work for me. Out of this conversation came the Suite Lyrique,
which I performed shortly afterwards. It became obvious that
we should record it and so I approached DG with the idea. We
were overjoyed that they were keen to get involved. So this
CD was born.
The music is a collection of some of John's more popular works, some traditional
Welsh folk songs, two wonderful lullabies for my girls, and the Suite Lyrique.
As we were discussing and preparing the recording, I had started work on a small
concerto for harp and strings. It was the first time I had put pen to paper,
as it were, and written some music down properly. I was naturally very excited
when it was decided to include this work as well - the Celtic Concerto.
There is always a whole army of people who help along the way to make projects
like this happen. But, to name just a few ... Thanks to John for all his work
and musical inspiration; Elin for her sublime singing; Sinfonia Cymru for providing
the fabulous young players that made up the strings and woodwind; Geraint and
Elinor for their constant support and friendship; Lou Watson - finally the duet
we were waiting for; the studio team for their engineering skills and making
it all sound beautiful; and my family, who keep me pulsing on!
I hope you enjoy it.
My love of the harp was kindled at an early age. As a boy soprano I
sang in a local performance of Benjamin Britten's Ceremony of Carols and was
captivated by the sound of the harp accompaniment, pestering the poor harpist
with questions about her instrument and how it was played. When I began to compose,
the harp often featured in the music I wrote - as it still does - so it was a
particular pleasure to be approached by Catrin (of whose playing I was already
an ardent fan) with the suggestion that we might collaborate on a recording.
Several themes came immediately to our minds. The harp is the instrument of the
angels, and that gave us our first theme. Mark, one of our executive producers,
suggested I might make harp transcriptions of two of my short sacred choral pieces,
and these - the Gaelic Blessing and The Lord Bless You and Keep You - begin the
album. The harp is also the national instrument of Wales, where Catrin has lived
for most of her life, and we wanted the album to have a Celtic flavour. Prompted
by Catrin's gift of a book of Welsh folk songs, I chose two, Bugeilio'r gwenith
gwyn and Migldi magldi, which seemed to call for solo woodwind in partnership
with harp. Then our cherished soprano friend and colleague Elin Manahan Thomas
suggested another, Beth yw'r haf i mi?, which she loves to sing and asked me
to arrange. Elin appears as a most welcome guest artist in this song, and also
in a solo version of my Clare Benediction which concludes the album.
The Celtic theme received an unexpected boost when Catrin shyly told me she had
been working on a "Celtic" concerto for harp and strings. I asked to see it and
was instantly delighted with its imagination, variety and colour - I insisted
we include it, and feel sure it will join the small and select company of standard
Another country strongly associated with the harp is France (where many of the
finest harps are still made), and to introduce a French theme my thoughts turned
to adapting a rather French-flavoured Suite Antique I composed some years ago
for flute, harpsichord and strings. Rewritten for Catrin's harp, it is here reborn
as the Suite Lyrique, its six short movements inspired by 18th-century dance
and song forms, with just a jazz-tinged waltz to bring us closer to the present.
Catrin's busy career as harpist is run alongside her equally busy and demanding
one as mother of two small daughters, for whom I wrote the two lullabies that
complete the programme. Perhaps some day Ana Gwen and Pegi will be able to play
them on the harp. Meanwhile I hope they will enjoy them at bedtime as a prelude
to sweet and musical dreams.
Lyrics of the songs, provided in
the CD booklet, are not reproduced here.
Recorded at Acapela Studio, Pentyrch, Cardiff,
Wales, 18-21 June 2012
Producers: Geraint Lewis and Elinor Bennett
Engineer: Hywel Wigley • Assistant Engineers: Luc Prosser and
Mix and Mastering: John Rutter, Hywel Wigley, Geraint Lewis and Catrin
Publishers: RSCM Publications (1); Collegium Music Publications
Acapela Publishing Company (4-6); Oxford University Press
® 2012 Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin
© 2012 Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin
Executive Producers: Angelika Meissner, Mark
Project Coordinator: Veronika Welher
Booklet Editor: Jens Schünemeyer ll:
Texts and translations: © Elin Manahan Thomas (translation of "Beth
yw'r haf i mi?");
© Oxford University Press (A Clare Benediction)
Cover Photo © iStockphoto / Floriana Barbu
Artist Photos: © Lee House (Recording Session), © Paul
Stuart (Portrait Manahan Thomas)
Design: Mareike Walter '
Art Direction: Merle Kersten
Printed in the EU