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Richard Rodney Bennett

Publisher: Novello & Co

Little Elegy (2012)
Work Notes
from "Variations for Judith"
Chester Music Ltd
Solo Keyboard(s)
Year Composed

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This is indeed a very Little Elegy with its single page lasting only two minutes. The melody is based on what many of us know as a Bach aria, Bist du bei mir. A well-known and well-loved piece that perfectly reflects its lyric of a wished for peaceful death, with either God or a loved one nearby, depending on your interpretation of the words. However, whilst the song was found in The Anna Magdalena Notebook, it appears that the melody was originally by Gottfried Heinrich Strözel in his opera Diomedes with its first performance in 1718, thereby pre-dating The Anna Magdalena Notebook by some seven years. An altered version of his melody is presented by Richard Rodney Bennett with a 21st-century harmony. Pianist and listener can imagine this reflects the same sentiments but it is also a darker and more intense version. My first impression was one of surprise – how could the so-called Bach be improved in any way? But each time I have played it I have become increasingly drawn to its beauty. A fantastic little piece for later grade students.
Angela Fogg, EPTA Journal,01/02/2017
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