John Wilson / BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra

Sir Richard Rodney Bennett, Vol. 3: Symphony No. 1; A History of the Thé Dansant; Zodiac; Reflection

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AllMusic Review by

Howard Ferguson, one of Richard Rodney Bennett's teachers, once said he had more talent than any other British composer of his generation, but that he had no personal style. An uncharitable observer might say that the tendency persisted through his mature career, but that is for the individual listener to decide, and Chandos is not the only organization to bet on a revival in the music of this British-American composer whose talents extended from serialism to film scores, and to a flourishing career as a jazz pianist besides. Volume 3 in Chandos' ongoing series of Bennett's orchestral music is a good pick for those interested in a single album, for it gives an idea of Bennett's stylistic range. Jazz influences come to the fore in the song set A History of the Thé Dansant, setting poems by the composer's sister Meg Peacocke and enthusiastically sung by Dame Sarah Connolly, and it hovers interestingly over the Symphony No. 1 as well. Reflections on a 16th Century Tune, dedicated to the conductor of the present release, John Wilson, is an attractive and intriguing densification of Renaissance English polyphony and gets an especially rich, committed performance from Wilson and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. Sample Variation 3 "Homage to Peter Warlock," whose title also references another of Bennett's influences, Peter Warlock. The compact, terse Zodiac draws inspiration from a composer at the opposite end of the stylistic spectrum from Warlock, Elisabeth Lutyens. The sound from Glasgow City Halls is ideal, and you may in fact detect a Bennett personal style after all when listening to this release.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Symphony No. 1
1 06:38
2 08:49
3 06:07
A History of the Thé Dansant
4 02:14
5 03:02
6 04:16
Reflections on a Sixteenth Century Tune for string orchestra
7 02:06
8 02:00
9 02:43
10 03:21
11 02:32
12 03:49
Zodiac for orchestra
13 00:47
14 01:00
15 01:03
16 01:02
17 00:44
18 01:01
19 01:03
20 01:08
21 00:48
22 01:08
23 01:04
24 01:02
25 00:49
26 01:09
27 00:57
28 00:57
29 01:03
blue highlight denotes track pick