C1428. COLIN DAVIS Cond. Boston S.O.: Symphony #99 in E-flat (Haydn) Symphony #1 (Richard Rodney Bennett). (Canada) St Laurent Studio YSL T-333, Live Performance, 24 Oct., 1968, John M. Greene Hall, Smith College. Transfers by Yves St Laurent.
“Richard Rodney Bennett, the British composer who in a long, distinguished career moved with ease among classical concert music, jazz and film, wrote three symphonies, 17 concerti, five operas and dozens of elegant chamber works in a style that fused the avant-garde theories of Pierre Boulez, one of his teachers, with his own flexible, lyrical, nondogmatic approach.
His taste had this wide range from the time he began listening to music on the radio as a child. ‘When I came across something I liked’, Mr. Bennett said in an interview with THE GUARDIAN in 2011, ‘I wanted to find out as much as I could about it. This was as true of hearing Hoagy Carmichael for the first time as it was later when I first heard Boulez. Being on a musical quest was something I always enjoyed’.
‘I just scribbled away and eventually a C major chord was there’, Mr. Bennett recalled. By the time he was 18 he had written three string quartets, and a year later he had finished his first film score. He entered the Royal Academy of Music in London in 1953….A scholarship from the French government gave Mr. Bennett two years of study in Paris with Mr. Boulez.
In a review of a revival of his 1965 opera, THE MINES OF SULPHUR, at the New York City Opera in 2005, Allan Kozinn wrote in THE NEW YORK TIMES that Mr. Bennett ‘adopted 12-tone techniques to create angular vocal lines and spiky textures’, and added, ‘But he was not after harshness as such: often his vocal lines soar, and they are supported by a vivid, lush and constantly moving orchestral score’.
Mr. Bennett was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1977 and was knighted in 1998 for his service to music.”
- Zachary Woolfe, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 30 Dec., 2012
“Sir Colin Davis, the magisterial conductor whose career with the London Symphony Orchestra spanned over half a century had always dreamed of being a conductor, [but] his rise in the profession was not swift. His skill on the piano was wanting, as was, he admitted, his desire to play it. He was appointed as assistant conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony in 1957 after three attempts for the job. By his own admission, he was hot-headed and short-tempered in his younger years, and his relationships with musicians and musical organizations early in his career were often tempestuous. Though he made his début with the London Symphony in 1959, it would be decades before he truly made his mark. In 1965, the London Symphony turned him down as chief conductor. For the next several years, first as chief conductor of the BBC Symphony, then as music director for the Royal Opera House, his career advanced slowly.
It was not until 1992, with his masterful interpretation of the Sibelius cycle with the London Symphony, that his authority became apparent and his fame began to spread. Three years later, he was made principal conductor of the London Symphony, a position he held until 2006, when Valery Gergiev took his place. His mark on the institution was indelible. He championed Sibelius and Berlioz, whose major works he conducted in full with the London Symphony in 1999 and 2000. He also revived Mozart as a symphonic mainstay after a long absence. In 1997, he took the London Symphony to New York to conduct its first residency at Lincoln Center. He was principal guest conductor of the New York Philharmonic from 1998 to 2003. He received two Grammy awards for his recording of Berlioz’s LES TROYENS with the London Symphony Orchestra in 2002, and another in 2006 for Verdi’s FALSTAFF.
Toward the end of his life, Sir Colin had become something of a sage in the world of classical music, wont to puff on his pipe and knit in quiet introspection. ‘Conductors’, he once said in an interview with The New York Times, ‘are paid to think, and that’s what the job should be about: sitting at home thinking, what is this piece? How can I set it up to sound its best and live on, because there’s nothing to replace it with just yet? This is what absorbs the mind. Especially in old age’.”
- Michael Schwirtz, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 14 April, 2013