L Berkeley, M Berkeley: Piano Sonata, Op. 20; Six Preludes, Op. 23; Three Pieces, Op. 2; Strange Meeting

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: L Berkeley,M Berkeley
LABELS: Chandos
WORKS: Piano Sonata, Op. 20; Six Preludes, Op. 23; Three Pieces, Op. 2; Strange Meeting
PERFORMER: Margaret Fingerhut (piano)
Lennox Berkeley wrote some of the most distiguished British piano music of the last century, finding a stylistic niche between Walton and John Ireland and the French influence of Nadia Boulanger (with whom he studied) and Poulenc. The major work is the Piano Sonata, Op. 20, an intense expression of Berkeley’s maturity, composed during the Second World War and dedicated to Clifford Curzon. Especially delightful are the Six Preludes, Op. 23, which although not so trenchantly individual are superbly written, with bittersweet hints of Samuel Barber. The E flat major Concert Study, Op. 48/2 – a pyrotechnical display, unusually virtuosic for Berkeley – here receives its first recording. Michael Berkeley is also well served by Chandos in this father-and-son edition and is represented by Strange Meeting (1974-8), an enigmatic, evocative work, at times starkly withdrawn, at others pumpingly aggressive, often lushly chromatic, always inventive and involving. Margaret Fingerhut is an accomplished and stylish advocate; she is particularly eloquent in the dark colours of the Michael Berkeley, and gives a penetrating account of the Sonata. Chandos’s sound is full and clear, if slightly reverberant and with a rather fat bass register. For anyone interested in 20th-century British music, this is warmly recommended. Tim Parry