RICHARD RODNEY BENNETT (1936-2012): Orchestral Works, Vol. 2 - Symphony No. 2, Serenade, Partita, Concerto for Stan Getz for Tenor Saxophone, Timpani and Strings.
Catalogue Number: 08U008
Reference: CHSA 5212
Format: SACD hybrid
Description: Another delightful cross-section of Bennett's unique kaleidoscope of styles. Despite his chameleonic ability effortlessly to transition between idioms, they seldom turned up fully fledged in combination in a single work, aside from the obvious relationship between his lush film scores and his neo-romantic concert pieces, like the immensely appealing Serenade and Partita here. A notable exception is the splendid saxophone concerto written for Stan Getz who, sadly, did not live to perform it, though he did see it completed. It was written at the suggestion of John Williams after Getz had expressed regret that no composer had written for him an equivalent of Copland's Clarinet Concerto or Stravinsky's Ebony Concerto. Bennett more than rose to the occasion, with a full-blown three-movement work which brackets a ravishing, smoky nocturnal Elegy between two rhythmically incisive, drivingly exhilarating outer movements. The concentrated, dramatic symphony of 1968 is from another period and another idiom; it is based on serial methods, with which Bennett was of course thoroughly conversant (he had, after all, been a Boulez pupil), but which he did not see as being in opposition to tonal relationships and harmony. So although the work is tough, and relatively astringent, the mechanisms underlying its construction stay firmly in the composer's workshop. The work is cast in four sections in a single span, and presents many contrasts between brashly argumentative music, hushed meditation and melodiousness, and spiky aggression. The lovely Serenade, written to be within the grasp of advanced student orchestras, comprises three movements of appealing character, ending with a Latin-flavored urban nocturne. The Partita was written for public 'use', so to speak; a corporate commission, it was played by 17 different orchestras in a year. Accordingly the piece is very accessible, full of good tunes and lively rhythms. It was also designated in memory of a friend of the composer. She seems to have been a lively, witty and humorous person as depicted in the music; only the central 'Lullaby' suggests a tenderly elegiac mood. Howard McGill (sax), BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra; John Wilson.