Mackenzie arranged Benedictus
for small orchestra, extracting it from his Opus 37 for violin and piano, which was premiered by Lady Hallé. He had originally called it Benedicite
, having composed it in Italy where freedom from his demanding schedule of duties gave so much of his finest work the chance to emerge. It was destined to become his best known piece, Mackenzie wryly commenting in 1927 that its success was ‘not yet quite dimmed by forty years of fairly constant wear and tear’ which included twice-weekly performances by the police band in Hong Kong. How they coped with its soaring and expansive beauties can only be guessed at. The gorgeous melody reflects Mackenzie’s deep feeling for the violin, to which is added a sensitive use of harmonic and orchestral colouring. But above all it expresses with sensual beauty a love which is, paradoxically, the purer for it, and is indeed a blessing.
from notes by John Purser © 1995