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Sea Change: The Choral Music of Richard Rodney Bennett - Cambridge Singers, John Rutter (Hybrid SACD)

Sea Change: The Choral Music of Richard Rodney Bennett - Cambridge Singers, John Rutter (Hybrid SACD)

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This historic classic from the Collegium catalog represented the first recorded survey of choral music by English composer Richard Rodney Bennett. Re-mixed and re-mastered for optimum quality, this highly anticipated re-release makes Sir Richard Rodney Bennett's music available to a new generation of listeners.

The recording 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.

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 Shakespeare Songs.
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 Guide to CDs

Bennett, R R: Sea Change
Simon Wall (tenor), Sam Evans (baritone), Charles Fullbrook (tubular bells)
Cambridge Singers
John Rutter

Sea Change: The isle is full of noises
Sea Change: The Bermudas
Sea Change: The waves come rolling
Sea Change: Full fathom five

Bennett, R R: A Farewell to Arms
Sue Dorey (cello)
Cambridge Singers
John Rutter

Bennett, R R: A Good-night

Bennett, R R: Verses

Bennett, R R: Missa Brevis

Missa brevis: Kyrie
Missa brevis: Gloria
Missa brevis: Sanctus
Missa brevis: Agnus Dei

Bennett, R R: Carols (5)
5 Carols: No. 1: There is no rose
5 Carols: No. 2: Out of your sleep
5 Carols: No. 3: That younge child
5 Carols: No. 4: Sweet was the song
5 Carols: No. 5: Susanni

Bennett, R R: Lullay Mine Liking
Elin Manahan Thomas (soprano), Clare Wilkinson (alto), Ben Breakwell (tenor), Sam Evans (bass)

Bennett, R R: What Sweeter Music

Bennett, R R: Puer Nobis

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