RICHARD RODNEY BENNETT (1936-2012): Orchestral Works, Vol. 1 - Symphony No. 3, Concerto for Marimba and Chamber Orchestra, Sinfonietta, Summer Music, Celebration.

Catalogue Number: 11T009

Label: Chandos

Reference: CHSA 5202

Format: SACD hybrid

Price: $18.98

Description: The many sides of the composer who did everything, and moreover did it all equally well - prolific film scorer, jazzman and producer of a substantial body of first-rate concert music. The composer described his Third Symphony (1987) as "my favourite piece I ever wrote". It seems to be a rather personal statement; lyrical and rhapsodic, with a strong sense of tonality that strengthens as the work progresses. The work is emotionally rich, beginning with a gentle melancholy, soon overtaken by an optimistic scherzo, not without its shadows, which swells into a more passionate episode before becoming thoughtful and calm again. A gentle, pastoral but slightly sad and uneasy allegretto follows, gathering stormclouds at the end and anticipating the finale, variations on the main theme of the symphony which build from a calm, reflective opening toward increasing passion and a powerful climax before achieving a final resolution - in the composer's words " ... it was fascinating to me that ... I’d come to a place where I could find a C minor chord at a moment of crisis." Celebration is what the title suggests; an extrovert curtain-raising 'comedy overture'. The attractive Sinfonietta, which compresses four symphonic movements into a single span of ten minutes and remains within range of skilled amateur musicians, is noticeably influenced by French Impressionism, for which Bennett had a high regard, as is the charming and downright catchy Summer Music, which of all the works here most contains traces of atmospheric film music and bluesy inflections - something that the composer usually tried to avoid in his 'serious' scores. The first movement of the Marimba Concerto is a study in colour and texture, again recalling Impressionism, with a lively marimba obbligato and two virtuosic cadenzas. The second movement is rhythmic and propulsive, ending with a blistering cadenza in which the soloist confronts the orchestra. Colin Currie (marimba), BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra; John Wilson.

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