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Songs from America’s Heartland
When the Saints Go Marching In (Traditional arr. John Rutter) [4:15]
Sourwood Mountain (Traditional arr. John Rutter) [1:43]
Black Sheep (Traditional arr. John Rutter) [2:04]
Down By The Riverside (Traditional arr. John Rutter) [4:20]
Lida Rose/Will I Ever Tell You (Meredith Willson) [4:16]
Blowin’ in the Wind (Bob Dylan arr. David Cullen) [3:56]
What a Wonderful World (Weiss/Douglas arr. David Cullen) [4:55]
Bridge over Troubled Water (Paul Simon arr. Chris Hazell) [5:45]
The Battle of New Orleans (Traditional arr. Ian Hughes) [4:33]
Shenandoah (Traditional arr. James Erb) [3:47]
Simple Gifts (Traditional arr. A. Laurence Lyon) [3:08]
Cindy (Traditional arr. Mack Wilberg) [4:18]
My Lord, What a Mornin’ (Traditional arr. H.Y. Burleigh) [2:56]
Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho (Traditional arr. David Cullen) [3:11]
Deep River (Traditional arr. Norman Luboff) [2:59]
The Battle Hymn of the Republic (Traditional arr. John Rutter) [5:14]
Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra/Jerold Ottley
Robert Cundick and John Longhurst (keyboards)
rec. April 1990, Salt Lake Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Utah
No texts
ABC CLASSICS 480 7778 [61:57]

This hour-long recital was recorded back in April 1990 and released on Decca the following year. It’s now been picked up, with due acknowledgement, by ABC Classics and it’s been restored in an attractive colour scheme. There are no texts in the eight-page booklet, but should you need one, almost all of the pieces are very well known and a simple search should find the relevant ones.
 
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir is one of those institutions that evoke a sense of space and power even as one says their name: the Royal Albert Hall is an equivalent in bricks and mortar but the MTC is a flesh and blood incarnation that ‘lifts the spirits of people of diverse cultures, ages and religions all over the world’. It does so through a variety of music and in this disc it went, largely, for a series of traditional tunes, spirituals, and popular songs in arrangements by diverse musicians.
 
Foremost amongst the arrangers is John Rutter whose Dixie descant in When the Saints Go Marching In is augmented by a rather corny trombone passage of rinky-dink complexion. There are two vocal soloists in Sourwood Mountain and attractive harmonies in Black Sheep. Down by The Riverside sports a Joplinesque piano break and accompanying drum support. Will I Ever Tell You has musical generosity a-plenty; it comes from Meredith Willson’s The Music Man and is heard without arrangement. David Cullen does the honours in the case of Bob Dylan’s Blowin’ in the Wind, which gets the orchestral treatment courtesy of the choir’s full sized band. Cullen also arranged What A Wonderful World in clement fashion; alto soloist Jane Fjeldstedt sings Bridge over Troubled Water with hymnal cadences.
 
Shenandoah is effectively done but a choir this size invariably lacks the gift to be simple, and talking of which Simple Gifts is heard with a plangent organ accompaniment. Cindy is a Negro spiritual replete with hand clapping, and with bass, xylophone, woodblock, tambourine and four-handed piano accompaniment. The choir’s full weight of tone is reserved for Rutter’s arrangement of The Battle Hymn of the Republic with plenty of expressive contrasts and drama.
 
It ends a popular, pleasing recital now getting on for a quarter-of-a-century old.
 
Jonathan Woolf
 

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