Aureole etc.




Nimbus on-line




If it’s the Czech works you’re after, do not hesitate

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


CD REVIEW
BARGAIN OF THE MONTH


Some items
to consider

 


Enjoy the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra wherever you are. App available for iOS and Android

Lyrita 4CDs £16 incl.postage

Lyrita 4CDs £16 incl.postage


Decca Phase 4 - 40CDs


Judith Bailey, George Lloyd


BAX Orchestral pieces


CASKEN Violin Concerto

Schumann Symphonies Rattle


Complete Brahms
Bargain price

 

alternatively Classicsonline AmazonUK AmazonUS

 

Lennox BERKELEY (1903–1989)
String Quartet No.1 Op.6 (1935) [26:27]
String Quartet No.2 Op.15 (1941) [18:30]
String Quartet No.3 Op.76 (1970) [18:05]
Maggini Quartet
rec. Potton Hall, Westleton, Suffolk, 7-9 December 2006.
NAXOS 8.570415 [63:02]
Experience Classicsonline


This is a disc that I have long been awaiting, for I have known Berkeley’s string quartets from tapes of broadcasts for many long years and deplored that nobody seemed interested in recording them. True, the Second String Quartet was tackled fairly recently and released in one of the Berkeley père et fils discs issued by Chandos (CHAN 10364), but the other two remained ignored till now. They form an excellent coupling for they clearly demonstrate that Berkeley’s style progressed over the years while preserving typical hallmarks, most prominent among these being contrapuntal mastery, elegance and lucid musical argument.

Though an early work, the String Quartet No.1 Op.6 completed in 1935 is somewhat more advanced stylistically in that the music is indebted to the idiom of its time. Richard Whitehouse suggests “the presence of Bartók”, which may not be evident to all but which is certainly reflected in the rather more stringent, at times acerbic harmonies pervading the music. What comes clearly through, is the almost classical poise of much of the music - a typical Berkeley hallmark. Berkeley’s First Quartet is in four movements, with a short lively Scherzo placed third. The biting rhythms of the first movement are offset by a tender slow movement that has its sharper edges. The quicksilver Scherzo moves along at great speed and not without tension but it tiptoes away into silence. The concluding movement is a theme and six contrasting and substantial variations. The last of these provides a slow, elegiac close. The First Quartet is an ambitious, accomplished work in which Berkeley’s contrapuntal mastery is evident throughout. I find it entirely convincing and most rewarding.

The String Quartet No.2 Op.15, completed in 1941, shows how Berkeley progressed over the years. Influences have now been absorbed and the end result is pure Berkeley. The first movement displays a good deal of energy and the dialogue between the two strongly contrasted subjects is handled with considerable assurance and vigour. The beautiful slow movement contains some of the finest music that Berkeley ever penned and provides the perfect foil to the other movements’ energetic, athletic writing. The third movement opens with a nervous gesture suggesting a powerful release of energy; but, for all its boisterousness, the music carries an uneasy feeling that is hardly dispelled in the final coda. A magnificent work and one of his unquestionable and unquestioned masterpieces. There is not much to choose between the Maggini’s and the Chilingirian’s readings of this work. The Chilingirian are marginally quicker than the Maggini, and their reading has a greater urgency. Both ensembles play superbly and have the full measure of this marvellous work.

The String Quartet No.3 Op.76 was completed nearly thirty years after its predecessor, at the end of a decade in which Berkeley composed his opera Castaway Op.68 (I hope that Richard Hickox will soon record it), the large-scale Magnificat Op.71 for chorus and orchestra (a work crying out for recording) and the masterly Symphony No.3 Op.74, one of his greatest achievements only to be surpassed by the Symphony No.4 Op.94. At about that time, too, Berkeley, in much the same way as many other composers, toyed with twelve-tone music although he did so in a highly non-dogmatic personal way. In his last string quartet, Berkeley returned to a more traditional structure in four movements with a short nervous Scherzo placed second. Much as in the Second Quartet, the third movement Lento stands out as the emotional core. The final movement opens with forceful energy as if willing to dispel any possible ambiguity experienced in the course of the preceding movements. A brief recollection of the slow movement tends to belie any attempt at a clear resolution. This is then brushed aside by a restatement of the opening material rushing the movement to its somewhat dismissive conclusion. A beautiful product of Berkeley’s full maturity.

The Maggini, again, deserve full marks for their superb readings of these beautiful and hugely rewarding works. I do not know where we would be without them. This is a splendid release on all counts and my Bargain of the Month.

Hubert Culot


 




 


Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Hyperion

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Alto
Arcodiva
Atoll
CDAccord
Cameo Classics
Centaur
Hallé
Hortus
Lyrita
Nimbus
Northern Flowers
Redcliffe
Sheva
Talent
Toccata Classics


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample
 


EXPLORE MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL

Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews

 

Discographies
   Composer
      Composer surveys
   National
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
.
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

Interviews
With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site

Nostalgia

Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Comment
Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure

Announcements

 

Community
Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Reviewers
Pat and present

Helpers invited!

Resources
How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips


Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Publishers
Other links
Newsgroups
Web News sites etc

PotPourri
A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Questionnaire    
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Dictionary
Magazines
Newsfeed  
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools




Return to Review Index

Untitled Document


Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.