Richard Rodney Bennett
Publisher: Novello & Co
Sermons and Devotions (1992)
Novello & Co Ltd
Chorus a cappella / Chorus plus 1 instrument
Commissioned by, and dedicated to the King's Singers, in celebration of their twenty-fifth anniversary, Sermons and Devotions is a setting of texts by John Donne (1572-1631). Completed in February 1992, the settings demonstrate the composer's deep respect for Donne's vivid, dramatic writings. Bennett treats the ensemble fundamentally as a euphonious unit, dividing the six voices into duos and trios so that the texts are always clear and yet the music has a contrapuntal energy. As a contrast, in the second, fourth and fifth pieces, solo voices declaim against sustained chords or, particularly dramatically in No 4, completely unaccompanied. The finale - setting one of Donne's best-known sermons - reverberates with the sonorities and harmonic characteristics of bells.