WGBH Radio WGBH Radio theclassicalstation.org

Berkeley: Piano Concerto In B Flat, Concerto For Two Pianos

Release Date: 08/07/2007 
Label:  Lyrita   Catalog #: 250   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Lennox Berkeley
Performer:  David WildeBoyd McDonaldGarth Beckett
Conductor:  Nicholas BraithwaiteNorman Del Mar
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Philharmonia OrchestraLondon Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Lennox Berkeley was a very accomplished composer, but it's not hard to understand why his music has failed to catch on in the way the works of contemporaries such as Britten, Walton, or even Tippett have. To make a long story short, he lacks personality, that distinctive "something" that allows a listener to experience the pleasure of recognition when listening to each new work. That said, both of the compositions on this disc are really enjoyable. The booklet notes call the First Piano Concerto a "masterpiece", and it's hard to find cause to disagree. Berkeley's writing is fluent, his ideas are attractive and even memorable. The piano writing has plenty of brilliance perfectly balanced by lyricism, and David Wilde's Read more performance of the solo had the composer's own imprimatur. Perhaps if the piece were better known, Berkeley's qualities as a composer would be more widely recognized. Certainly this is one of the finest British piano concertos.

The Concerto for Two Pianos consists of a brief, preludial opening movement followed by a lengthy Theme and Variations. Berkeley packs this unusual format with plenty of contrast. His writing for the two pianos is expert: the music never sounds unduly thick and heavy, with the orchestra sometimes functioning as an unnecessary appendix to the full mass of piano tone. Again, the performance is excellent, and the sonics, while perhaps a touch distant, are otherwise up to Lyrita's extremely high standards. It's a pity that both of these pieces aren't more popular--and who knows, perhaps Berkeley is due for a reassessment. In the final analysis, though, he seems to be more of a musician's musician--not necessarily an "acquired taste" in the sense that his style is in any way difficult, but more the sort of thing for listeners who can appreciate fine craftsmanship for its own sake. If you're not a member of that group, this disc surely makes an excellent case for you to join.

--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
Read less

Works on This Recording

Concerto for Piano in B flat major, Op. 29 by Lennox Berkeley
Performer:  David Wilde (Piano)
Conductor:  Nicholas Braithwaite
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1947; England 
Concerto for 2 Pianos, Op. 30 by Lennox Berkeley
Performer:  Boyd McDonald (Piano), Garth Beckett (Piano)
Conductor:  Norman Del Mar
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1948; England 

Customer Reviews

Be the first to review this title
Review This Title