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These four texts make for a satisfying musical whole. The cycle begins and ends in dreaming, conjured up with a distant bell, multi-divided voices and the use of strange ‘artificial’ scales which generate eerie bitonal harmonies. Bennett’s Full fathom five was, curiously, anticipated in these techniques by the aged Vaughan Williams in his similarly luminous and visionary setting of the same words in 1950. The inner movements offer sharp and effective contrasts. The Bermudas (Bennett’s second setting of this poem, unrelated to an earlier one for chorus and orchestra) is framed by haunting unaccompanied solos, for tenor and baritone respectively. Adjoining these are two hymn-like passages built on plain chords, sung by the thankful mariners, the first of them tranquil, the second more exalted; these in turn frame a flowing, melodious central section, marked Allegretto amabile, detailing the abundant bounties of the island. The shape of the whole movement is thus an arch-like ABCBA. The third movement, The waves come rolling, is the most startling—a kind of sprechgesang scherzo in which pitches are indicated as being approximate, and the composer directs that ‘the widest vocal and dynamic range is to be used and the maximum (melo)dramatic effect aimed for’. The mood is violent and nightmarish, and it was a dramatic masterstroke to follow this with the calm, timeless dreaming of Full fathom five.
from notes by Collegium Records © 2005
|Bennett (RR): Sea change & other choral works|
Taking advantage of the latest advances in audio technology, this re-release of the first recorded survey of choral music the composer Richard Rodney Bennett is presented in a new stereo mix for the first time, in a spirit of tribute to his long ...» More