Piano Music of Richard Rodney Bennett and William Walton
Richard Rodney Bennett, piano and narration
Carol Rosenberger, piano
Bennett: Suite for Skip and Sadie • Partridge Pie • Seven days a Week • A Week of Birthdays • Walton: Duets for Children
In his gentle, direct manner, Sir Richard tells a brief story about the music in an “Introduction” before each Suite, and then reminds us of the title of each track just before it begins. We could be listening to the CD with no accompanying notes, and we would know what each charming piece is about. The pieces are all very short; and there are 45 tracks in all!
“This is music for children — some of it intended for them to play, all of it intended for them to listen to and dance to. And unlike most composers aiming at younger audiences, then it never condescends. True, the structures are clear, the rhythms spiffy, the time spans brief. But in spirit, his music circles more or less in the Poulenc orbit. There is consequently a dash of sophisticated irony, a pinch of self-conscious nostalgic elegance that keeps even Suite for Skip and Sadie (Bennett’s two cats) from falling into cuteness. Even when working within the most limited means (Seven Days a Week is written for the white notes only), Bennett’s ingenuity manages to keep the interest up.
“Walton’s four-hand suite makes an attractive coupling… the performances are polished, the sound exceptionally vivid; and while the brief narrations are not separately tracked, they are placed at the end of tracks, rather than the beginning, so it’s easy to hop to the next musical segment. Pictures are provided instead of written notes. My eight-year-old daughter Rachel recommends it, and I concur”—Fanfare
“British composer Bennett performs four original works of music for children — Partridge Pie, Seven Days a Week and A Week of Birthdays for piano and narration — and, with pianist Carol Rosenberger, two pieces for piano duet, his Suite For Skip and Sadie and fellow countryman Sir William Walton’s 1940 set of duets for children. Bennett’s spoken comments have a natural warmth and intelligence that don’t underestimate his audience. These are pieces that will engage the shared interest of parents and children. This is music that no child 10 years hence is likely to recall with embarrassment.”—In Music