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Richard Rodney Bennett

Publisher: Novello & Co

Dream Dancing (1986)
commissioned by the London Sinfonietta
Work Notes
fifth piece by RR Bennett inspired by Debussy's Syrinx
Novello & Co Ltd
Large Ensemble (7 or more players)
Year Composed
16 Minutes

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Programme Note
Richard Rodney Bennett Dream Dancing (1986)
Dream Dancing is a piece which has been in my mind for some years; when the London Sinfonietta commissioned a work from me to celebrate my 50th birthday (March 29th, 1986)
I decided to carry out this idea. A number of musical and extra-musical influences went into the planning of the piece.

The late works of Claude Debussy have always been of the utmost importance to me. Dream Dancing is the fifth in a series of works based on Debussy's Syrinx for solo flute , the others being After Syrinx I for obeo and piano, After Syrinx II for solo piano.

At the end of his life Debussy was planning a series of six sonatas, of which he only lived to complete three- the violin sonata, cello sonata and the sonata for flute, viola and harp. The fourth was to have been for obeo, horn and harpsichord, the fifth for clarinet, bassoon, trumpet, piano and double bass, and the six for an ensemble made up of all the instruments used in the previous five sonatas. This is in fact the ensemble which I have used in Dream Dancing (with certain doublings)- flute, oboe / cor anglais, clarinet/ bass clarinet, bassoon, horn, trumpet, harpsichord, piano / celesta, harp, violin, viola, cello and double bass.
The work is two extended movements, each suggested by a brief quotation. The first (Adagio tranquillo) uses lines from 2A Winter's Tale" by Dylan Thomas:
"And the dancers move
On the departed, snow bushed green,
wanton in moon light
As dust of pigeons."
The second movement (Moito vivo ) takes lines from john Keats' " The Eve of Saint Agnes":
"the argent revelry
With plume, tiara and all rich array,
Numerous as shadows"
Both movements contain interludes from the small chamber groups from Debussy's written and unwritten sonatas. The second movement, a fantastic scherzo, is based on the rhythmic structure of Debussy's Masques (1904) for solo piano.

There are, incidentally, songs by both Cole Porter Jerome Kern entitled Dream Dancing.

This piece was written in New York City between December 1985 and February 1986, it lasts 16-17 minutes, and it is affectionately dedicated to Sir Kenneth and Lady Macmillan.

Richard Rodney Bennett

  • Ensemble
    RTE National Symphony Orchestra
    Martin Jones
    David Angus
  • 30 JAN 2015
    Royal Academy of Music
    Royal Academy of Music
  • 13 AUG 2011
    Proms 2011
    Cadogan Hall, London
    London Sinfonietta
    Paul Silverthorne, viola; Nicholas Collon, conductor

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