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Choral Music of Richard Rodney Bennett (1936-2012)
Re-Mixed & Re-Mastered for March 2013
Taking advantage of the latest advances in audio technology, this re-release of the first recorded survey of choral music the composer Richard Rodney Bennett is presented in a new stereo mix for the first time, in a spirit of tribute to his long and distinguished career.
The CD spans a period of over thirty years from the Five Carols written in 1967 through to A Farewell to Arms written in 2001. The disc also includes his virtuosic Sea Change, a luminous and visionary setting of various dreamlike texts; A Good Night, composed in 1999 for the ‘Garland for Linda’ project in memory of Linda McCartney and the Missa Brevis, his only piece of liturgical music, composed in 1990 for Canterbury Cathedral Choir.
Bennett’s choral pieces are all possessed of a gift for heart-melting, memorable and quintessentially English melody – and an instinctive lyric responsiveness to English poetry. Poetry always mattered intensely to Bennett and in his choral writing we find him setting some of the very greatest – Shakespeare, Donne, Marvell and Spenser – alongside slighter but exquisite lyrics by such poets as Herrick, Quarles and the medieval ‘anon’s.
“Outstanding performances of music by a composer who wrote superbly for voices. There are many highlights but Lullay Mine Liking stands out for its tenderness and the fine soloists.” BBC Music Magazine
“One of Bennett's characteristics as a composer was his versatility: he ranged easily between opera and ballet, film score and jazz. His choral music, less well known, shares that variety...John Rutter is a loyal interpreter of his fellow choral composer. The CD, in fitting memorial, has one of Bennett's own collages as the cover illustration.” The Observer, 10th March 2013 *****
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The Choral Music of Richard Rodney Bennett
“Hard to believe, but this is the first CD devoted solely to Sir Richard Rodney Bennett's extensive choral output. That it's a richly rewarding body of work is nowhere better exemplified than in the curtain-raiser, Sea Change (1984) a marvellously effective, 17-minute cycle to texts by Shakespeare, Andrew Marvell and Edmund Spenser. The Spenser setting thrillingly evokes the terrible monsters encountered by Sir Guyon during a stormy sea voyage by employing a technique akin to Sprechgesang, while the concluding 'Full fathom five' is a worthy successor to Vaughan Williams's setting in his Three ShakespeareSongs.
Whereas Sea Change minimally and subtly deploys tubular bells, A Farewell to Arms (2001) memorably incorporates an extensive role for solo cello and sets the same poems by Ralph Knevet and George Peele that Finzi first brought together for his 1945 diptych. It's a tenderly moving creation, as is the part-song 'A Good-Night' (1999) from the sequence A Garlandfor Linda. If Britten's shadow looms large over the Missa brevis (1990) for Canterbury Cathedral Choir, it's a no less appealing creation for all that.
Bouquets all round to John Rutter and his Cambridge Singers; theirs is a cappella singing of a very high order. Exemplary presentation and admirable sound, tastefully balanced within the comparatively intimate acoustic of the LSO's home, St Luke's in the City of London. A delightful anthology.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
“Beautifully sung and even more beautifully recorded…” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2005
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