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Sir Lennox BERKELEY (1903-1989)
Berkeley conducts Berkeley

Mont Juic, Op. 9 (with Britten, 1937) [11:04]; Serenade for Strings, Op. 12 (1939) [13:19]; Divertimento in B flat, Op. 18 (1943) [18:46]; Partita, Op. 66 (1964-54) [12:38]; Sinfonia concertante, Op. 84 - Canzonettaa(1973) [2:58]; Symphony No. 3, Op. 74 (1969) [15:17]
aRoger Winfield (oboe).
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Sir Lennox Berkeley
rec. 1971-75. No location information. ADD

These are authoritative analogue original recordings of Berkeley's orchestral works with the LPO conducted by the composer. The CD appears freshly on the market courtesy of the Lyrita-Nimbus collaboration. They are old friends; some older than others, but all familiar first to LP era music enthusiasts. Most of the recordings featured here derive from SRCS 74. They are the Divertimento, Canzonetta, Serenade and Partita. While Mont Juic is from SRCS 50 where originally it shared the vinyl with the Bliss Mêlée Fantasque, Holst's Japanese Suite and Walton's Music for Children. The Third Symphony is from SRCS 57 with Geoffrey Bush's Music for Orchestra and Maconchy's Coronation year award-winning overture Proud Thames.

The Mont Juic Dances are the product of happy days in Barcelona for Britten and Berkeley for the 1936 ISCM Festival. As Peter Dickinson reports having had the confidence of the composer the first two dances were "mostly by" Berkeley while the other two were "mostly by Britten". These are lugubrious and exuberant by turns and perhaps comparable with the Malcolm Arnold English Dances. The string Serenade bustles and sings in competition with the much earlier string Serenade by Dag Wirén and along the way sneaks the odd glance in the direction of Tippett's Concerto for Double String Orchestra. The Divertimento sis light and zestful - Berkeley suggesting himself as a sort of English Poulenc with the occasional whiff of liberation from Piston. Some may recall this piece from a mixed RCA LP conducted by Igor Buketoff. The Partita is much later and is more anonymous and less memorable - more's the pity although the first of the two central Arias is nostalgically engaging rather redolent of Poulenc. The singing Canzonetta - what a pity Roger Winfield and the composer did not record the whole of the op. 84 Sinfonia Concertante - graciously recalls Malcolm Arnold and is very touching. The single movement Third Symphony is a more elusive piece, compact, serene and with some triumphant moments. The excellent notes are by Berkeley authority, the composer Peter Dickinson.

Rob Barnett

see also review by Colin Clarke


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