Nicholas Braithwaite

William Sterndale Bennett: Overtures; Symphony in G minor

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If you would like to try a single disc of the music of William Sterndale Bennett to see if you might like the work of the English early Romantic composer, try this one featuring his Symphony in G minor along with four orchestral overtures. Conducted with skill and commitment by Nicholas Braithwaite and performed with dexterity and dedication by either the London Philharmonic or the Philharmonia Orchestra, these works sound as self-assured and successful as is imaginable. How imaginable that it depends on the listener. Some may find Bennett a sincere but derivative composer, that his classically scaled forms, emotionally restrained themes, ardent yet elegant tone, even his scoring for blended winds and spiccato strings all make his music sound uncomfortably like the music of his friend Mendelssohn. That Bennett is a resourceful composer is undeniable. His handling of harmony and structure in his symphony may not be especially original but it is masterful. And that Bennett is a talented composer is obvious. His depiction of enchanted landscapes in "The Wood Nymphs" and of magical waterscapes in "The Naiades" will be thoroughly delightful to the listener sensitive to romantic poetry. If this disc does delight, check out the two discs of Bennett's piano concertos with pianist Malcolm Binns. If it doesn't, there's always Mendelssohn. Lyrita's sound is warm, deep, and clear.

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