Bennett: Sea Change; A Farewell to Arms; Missa brevis; Five Carols; Verses

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COMPOSERS: Bennett
LABELS: Collegium
ALBUM TITLE: Sea Change
WORKS: Sea Change; A Farewell to Arms; Missa brevis; Five Carols; Verses
PERFORMER: Sue Dorley, Charles Fullbrook, Cambridge Singers, John Rutter
CATALOGUE NO: CSACD 901
I confess that some of the early

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Cambridge Singers discs were a

musical epiphany for me. Even if I

were minded to remove those rosetinted

spectacles, this disc is in no way

a poor relation. The same winning

qualities are present: clean-sweeping

musical lines, loving attention to text,

absolute commitment to choral blend.

All of these give the impression of an

intimacy and singularity of purpose

more associated with a Lieder recital

than a choral performance, and it is

hard to imagine a more persuasive

and personal rendering of this

charming music.

Richard Rodney Bennett’s is a

rich, nostalgic harmony, pivoting

restlessly from sweet discord to

half-resolved concord. When firmly

rooted in a text, this style provides

inspiring material for a young choir

and a conductor of Rutter’s calibre;

Shakespeare’s Tempest texts are

revealed in Vaughan Williams-like

lushness; the Elizabethan poetry calls

forth similarly personal response.

Only the Missa brevis is unexceptional;

though there is nothing to dislike in

it, the liturgical text makes Bennett’s

harmonic gambits, and thus the

performance, seem somewhat

anchorless. The Nissan hut-like

acoustics of the new LSO St Luke’s

fortunately do not detract from the

music-making, a further tribute to the

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performers. William Whitehead