COMPOSERS: Richard Rodney Bennett
ALBUM TITLE: Rodney Bennett: Letters to Lindbergh
WORKS: Letters to Lindbergh; The Ballad of Sweet William; The Aviary; Dream-Sons; A Song at Evening; Four American Carols; Over the Hills and Far Away
PERFORMER: NYCoS National Girls Choir/Christopher Bell; Phillip Moore, Andrew West (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: SIGCD325
Much of Richard Rodney Bennett’s Letters to Lindbergh is written in unison, but that doesn’t make it easy for the singers. ‘The Letter from the Titanic’, for instance, scoots off at high velocity, scatter-gunning text at the performers in relentless fashion. The Scottish girls are excellently prepared, however, keeping diction clean and crisp without impeding the heady forward momentum. They’re alive, too, to the wit and wiliness of Martin Hall’s lyrics, dividing accurately in the harmony sections without sacrificing the technical stability of their singing.
Quickness and intelligence of response also characterise the four Dream-Songs, especially the more subdued ‘The Song of Shadows’. Here, the choir’s informed placement of consonant repeats in the line ‘Sweep softly thy strings’, and the light-touch unanimity of their accenting on the word ‘Musician’ that follows, bespeak painstaking rehearsal, and deftly effective conducting by Christopher Bell at the point of performance.
The choir’s brightness of tone and fresh attack are invigoratingly to the fore in ‘A Child of God’, one of the Four American Carols that end the vocal section of the disc. Over the Hills and Far Away, a short suite of folk tunes and nursery rhyme arrangements for piano duet, is the charming envoi.