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Cat. No. CHAN 10236 X Price: £7 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 10236 - Strauss, R: Symphony No. 2/ Romanze/Six Songs
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Available From: 06 September 2004
With their flair and brilliance, the Six Preludes justifiably became regarded as among Lennox Berkeley’s finest piano works.They originated in a BBC commission for short pieces that could be performed as interludes between programmes (the BBC later dropped this idea). Berkeley intended the pieces to be playable by skilled amateurs and while two proved more difficult than he had envisaged, none requires a virtuoso pianist. Berkeley’s natural adroitness at developing thematic material is nowhere demonstrated better than in the Sonata, his most significant piano work.

Paysage was written to celebrate the liberation of France in 1944. Berkeley was partly of French ancestry so it was natural that he rejoiced at the end of Nazi domination in that country.

The pianist Colin Horsley was a major exponent of Berkeley’s work and the dedicatee of the virtuoso Concert Study in E flat major. He commissioned the witty Scherzo so that he could offer an encore after performances of the Six Preludes. The Three Mazurkas are Berkeley’s most overt homage to Chopin. The first dates from 1939 and has a sinister edge that may reflect the time of its composition. The other two were composed a decade later for the centenary commemoration of the death of Chopin.

The Improvisation on a Theme of Manuel de Falla was composed for inclusion in a celebratory album to mark the centenary of the founding of the publishing house J. & W. Chester. In it Berkeley alludes to a melody from Falla’s ballet El amor brujo.

Strange Meeting is the first of two works which Michael Berkeley has so far written for solo piano.The title refers to the poem by Wilfred Owen, with the first movement evoking the ‘strangeness’ of a meeting in the afterworld of a British and German soldier who, in life, had fought hand to hand.

Järvis Strauss series is an important set of recordings that will hold an honoured place alongside Chandos Prokofiev and Bax cycles.

Järvi paces the score with real mastery and gets very good playing from the Royal Scottish National Orchestra…
The Penguin Complete Guide to Compact Discs


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