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Berners: Ballet Music / Lloyd-Jones, Blennerhassett

Release Date: 12/12/1995 
Label:  Marco Polo   Catalog #: 223780   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Lord (Tyrwhitt) Berners
Performer:  Miriam Blennerhassett
Conductor:  David Lloyd-Jones
Orchestra/Ensemble:  RTE Sinfonietta
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 9 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Lord Berners will shortly have at least four of his five ballets out on CD. I welcomed the reissue of the excellent EMI release containing The Triumph of Neptune with the RLPO under Wordsworth (8/94) and there is still Marco Polo's A Wedding Bouquet to come.

The two ballets represented here were both failures in the theatre but the blame attaches to the choreographer, Frederick Ashton, for choosing unsuitable subjects rather than to Berners. The music for both ballets is thoroughly hedonistic. The most disconcerting thing Berners could do during the First World War was to ape the avant-garde in his experimental piano pieces, but he soon moved to the world of ballet where his own multidimensional talents as composer, writer,
Read more designer and painter could have free rein. In the theatre he indulged himself in Spanish mannerisms, waltzes and near-Tchaikovsky dance numbers.

Cupid and Psyche (1939) has some delightful episodes. The "Pas de Deux" (track 14) is in Berners's most effulgent vein from 213" and the climax at 3'22" is stunning. The "Entracte" (track 15) is deliciously scored with flute and celesta.

It was Constant Lambert who decided to make an orchestral Caprice out of Berners's only opera, a one-act treatment of the Merimée story used in Offenbach's La Périchole given in Paris in 1924 but only heard here on BBC Radio 3 in 1983. (The score has not beenpublished but the passages used can easily be traced in the vocal score of the opera - pages 35-42; 85-7; 104-06; and 91-101 plus a flourish to finish.) It works surprisingly well since the scoring has plenty of orchestral interest and at times sounds like a Spanish Firebird. The horns badly muff an entry at 653" in an otherwise vivid performance. Les sirènes (1946) was an Edwardian period piece set on the beach at Trouville in 1904. Berners, older and knocked out by the War, reverts to pastiche and quotes Waldteufel and more. Almost everything sounds borrowed. All the same it is deftly executed and both these ballets, as one might expect, make a genuinely aristocratic contribution to British light music in these sympathetic performances.

-- Gramophone [4/1996]

Selections recorded November 10-11, 1994 and January 10, 1995.
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Works on This Recording

Les sirènes by Lord (Tyrwhitt) Berners
Performer:  Miriam Blennerhassett (Alto)
Conductor:  David Lloyd-Jones
Orchestra/Ensemble:  RTE Sinfonietta
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1946; London, England 
Venue:  O'Reilly Hall, Dublin, Ireland 
Length: 34 Minutes 29 Secs. 
Caprice péruvien by Lord (Tyrwhitt) Berners
Conductor:  David Lloyd-Jones
Orchestra/Ensemble:  RTE Sinfonietta
Period: 20th Century 
Venue:  O'Reilly Hall, Dublin, Ireland 
Length: 9 Minutes 7 Secs. 
Notes: Constant Lambert arranged this work from material from Lord Berners' "Le carrosse du Saint Sacrement." 
Cupid and Psyche: Concert Suite by Lord (Tyrwhitt) Berners
Conductor:  David Lloyd-Jones
Orchestra/Ensemble:  RTE Sinfonietta

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