British composer Sir Richard Rodney Bennett has been revived lately by several labels, with Chandos here providing fine sound from the Glasgow City Halls in this idiomatic performance by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under John Wilson. Bennett was a student of Boulez but in later life wrote in an accessible neoclassic idiom prefigured even in the 1967 Symphony No. 2 heard here. That work also contains a characteristic nocturne section, here with a distinctly unsettling quality. Another common trait in Bennett's music is the presence of jazz influences, sometimes slyly sneaking in and sometimes coming into full bloom as with the 1990 Concerto for Stan Getz, ably handled by tenor saxophonist Howard McGill. Getz commissioned this work but did not live to perform it, which is a shame: the work is unlike other jazz-classical fusions in that the orchestra does not simply enhance the jazz lines but takes a somewhat tense position vis-à-vis jazz. It is not exactly adversarial, but it does justice to the idea that two quite distinct traditions are being merged. The Serenade (1976, written for the Silver Jubilee of Elizabeth II) and the Partita of 1995 are unfailingly enjoyable, and the album can be recommended for anyone wishing to hear more of the composer who inspired a good deal of the neoclassic revival in British music.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Concerto for Stan Getz for tenor saxophone, timpani and strings|
I. Con fuoco - (Tempo giusto) - Cadenza. Declamato, tempo giusto - Moderato, sempre rubato - Liberamente - Tempo I
II. Elegy: Lento - A tempo, pochissimo più - Tempo I - Tempo II - Con moto - A tempo [II] - Agitato, appassionato - Tempo I, tranquillo - A tempo, sostenuto
|Symphony No. 2 for orchestra|
|Serenade for small orchestra|