Widely admired for his operas and symphonic works, and internationally acclaimed for his numerous film scores, Richard Rodney Bennett has received far less appreciation for his choral music, even though this body of work is quite substantial, highly accessible, and rewarding. These 2004 performances by John Rutter and the splendid Cambridge Singers mark the first serious attempt to record a representative album of Bennett's secular and sacred pieces for choir; and due to the favorable attention it has already received, this handsome collection may inspire other, more extensive surveys. This program is divided in three parts: occasional pieces, mostly settings of English poetry of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries; a Missa Brevis in Latin, Bennett's single liturgical work; and a set of Christmas carols. Rutter and his roundly blended ensemble are exquisitely captured in Collegium's multichannel recording, and cellist Sue Dorey is especially expressive and resonant in her solo in A Farewell to Arms. Anyone who enjoys tonal, melodic choral music should give this disc a try. But note that Bennett's setting of Robert Herrick's What Sweeter Music is not the same piece as the more famous version Rutter composed in 1988, and which is available on Collegium 111.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Sea Change, for chorus & tubular bells|
|Missa Brevis, for chorus|
|Carols (5) for chorus|