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Richard Rodney Bennett’s teachers thought him brilliant but too eclectic to have framed a personal style. However, he’s immediately identifiable from I wonder as I wander, the first of his settings here: a gently pastoral voice, but with modernist flavourings and the freedom of harmony that made him such a convincing jazz artist as well as our most brilliant film composer. The title piece is a dedication to his older sister Meg, the poet M.R. Peacocke, with whom he often collaborated. And yet the texts and title are taken from Wordsworth’s Intimations of Immortality, all of it. Elsewhere he uses Ben Jonson (a favourite writer), some John Donne (verse and prose), Thomas Ravenscroft and the always reliable Anon. The young Birmingham singers bring freshness and authority to these mostly first recordings which were made in the city’s St Alban the Martyr church: lovely acoustics.

BRIAN MORTON Read the full review on Agora Classica


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