Welcome to the website of British conductor and composer Ben Palmer
Ben Palmer Press
...the result was exhilarating. Ben Palmer conducted [Beethoven Violin Concerto] with swift tempi, sharp accents and crisp rhythms - the world of the fifth symphony was never far away.
...this disc is a particularly welcome unveiling of four rapturous sacred works, thanks to a happy marriage of scholarship and performance. ... Conductor Ben Palmer draws alert responses from The Syred Consort, highlighting to dramatic effect moments of vivid word painting, expressive chromaticisms and dissonance. ...the Orchestra of St Paul’s produces a lush orchestral sound, aptly suggesting the extravagance of Venetian sacred music.
Each of these offerings suggests a director in Ben Palmer who has a firm grip on his material: rhythms are propelled with purpose and vitality, and there’s an unyielding quest to uncover the imagery and sensibility of Lotti’s almost cinematic perspectives with graphic immediacy. ... The strength of these performances lies largely in an organic sense of what each work can effectively impart, again strongly enabled by Palmer’s unequivocal vision. ...Ben Palmer has irrevocably identified a fine craftsman who is rather more than a ‘one piece wonder’...
The Dixit opens with the same monumental wall of sound that Monteverdi uses in his Vespers, setting the majestic tone for the disc. I, for one, have certainly been won over - the superb musicianship on display shows Lotti in the best possible light...
The middle movement, marked piacevole, is the relevation, shimmering with a new hushed beauty - equally a testament to the lustre frequently achieved by the 16 musicians in Ben Palmer’s Orchestra of St Paul’s, with the violin sections placed antiphonally to the conductor’s left and right. ...the forces may have become enlarged, but there is never any distortion of intent; indeed, the bipolar mix of searing anguish, quiet radiance and Irish reel hits home as never before.
This is fiendishly difficult music for a quartet, yet alone a sixteen-strong string ensemble. But the Orchestra of St Paul’s advocate it with an edge of the seat intensity and technical brilliance that contrasts sharply with the ‘health and safety’ approach favoured by today’s ‘A list’ orchestras. ...the CD is enhanced by erudite sleeve notes from Ben Palmer; when did you last find Dudamel, Gergiev or Rattle taking the time to share their musical passions in a sleeve note? Audience engagement is not about superstar conductors, celebrity interviews over lunch at braggable restaurants, cutting through classical websites, or click bait blogs - it is is about the kind of music making found on this new CD.
...[the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra] was conducted by Ben Palmer, who shared wonderful anecdotes and stories about many of the pieces on the night and with his jovial, warm, engaging manner, the breathtakingly beautiful music was mesmerising.
...excellently performed by the Orchestra of St Paul’s under Ben Palmer. Famous for avoiding vibrato, Palmer’s orchestra shone a clear light on these curious pieces, marked by piercing winds and snake-charming solos, with ebullience arriving in the nick of time. This was a pleasure to hear.
...complemented by the deft playing of the Orchestra of St Paul’s under the meticulous Ben Palmer.
Especial praise is due to Ben Palmer and the Orchestra of St Paul’s who had to get to grips with so many new compositions for one concert; they deserve top marks for concentration, commitment and courage. However they also imparted such sparkle to the music that the audience could not help being impressed by their enthusiasm and musicianship.
...the first complete recording of the incidental music to Binyon’s play King Arthur, scraps of bittersweet remembrance from the master’s table. ...performances under conductors John Wilson and Ben Palmer are persuasive.
The performance is thoroughly idiomatic - the lightness of the scoring is very evocative. Palmer has a very good feel for the score and the recording, while close, captures the various lines well.
© Ben Palmer 2017 • All portraits by Andy Staples Photography