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Cat. No. CHAN 10265 Price: £5 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 10265 - The Berkeley Edition, Vol. 5
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Available From: 15 November 2004
"Lennox Berkeley wrote his Piano Concerto in B flat major in 1947–48 for his loyal interpreter Colin Horsley, who gave the first performance in the Royal Albert Hall in London. The solo part combines a good deal of bravura writing, including several passages of double octaves, with simple, lyrical melodies, sometimes over a Chopin-like arpeggio accompaniment and sometimes played by the two hands in octaves.

A convert to Roman Catholicism in his mid-twenties, Berkeley composed a good deal of music for worship, as well as several concert works on sacred or devotional texts. Among the best known of the latter is his Four Poems of St Teresa of Ávila, written in 1947 shortly before the Piano Concerto. The voice is accompanied by the favourite English medium of string orchestra, with some solo writing for violin and cello and with the sections frequently divided to provide rich harmonies and full textures.

Michael Berkeley’s Gethsemane Fragment is based on the description in St Matthew’s gospel of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane before his arrest, trial and Crucifixion, praying: ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.’ He chose this passage, he says, ‘because it seemed to me that at Gethsemane we see Christ at his most human’.

The title of the work Tristessa, clearly related to the French, Italian and Spanish words for sadness, is taken from Angela Carter’s 1977 novel The Passion of New Eve, a fantasy of sexual re-orientation set in a dystopian future America. It is the name of one of the central characters, a former Hollywood star, now a recluse, whose on-screen persona embodied women’s suffering. Carter, who died in 1992 at the age of fifty-one, was a friend of Berkeley’s and collaborated with him on an unrealised operatic project. The work is dedicated to her memory.

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Reviews

The four pieces follow a pattern: Michael Berkeley’s newer music is far darker and more atonal that his father’s. The two distinct personalities yield a varied, contrasting program of great interest.
American Record Guide

This magnificent series devoted to the two Berkeleys continues… as in the previous three volumes there are revelations, with Richard Hickox as the ideal interpreter in every way.
Gramophone on CHAN 10167 (Volume 4)

Richard Hickox inspires the BBC National Orchestra of Wales to a brilliant performance, vividly recorded…
Gramophone on CHAN 10080 (Volume 3)

A fascinating programme, extremely well played and recorded.
The Sunday Times ‘CD of the Week’ on CHAN 9981 (Volume 1)

'Played with fervour and authority by the forces for whom it was written, this performance caps a welcome addition to the Berkeleys' discography.'
BBC Music Magazine

 

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