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<<  -- 3 --  Peter Dickinson    A REVELATION


A major feature of the centenary year has been the Berkeley Edition series of recordings on Chandos (CHAN 9981; CHAN 10022; and CHAN 10080 so far). To anyone who knew the music from the earlier recordings the exuberant First Symphony and the concentrated Third came out well under Hickox. But the Fourth was a surprise, since there have been few opportunities to hear it since Berkeley's 75th year in 1978. Like some of Berkeley, it may not yield all its secrets at once but Hickox brings an expansive lyrical piece to life virtually for the first time. Things to look forward to in 2004 in the Chandos series include the fourth volume of the Berkeley Edition with the Second Symphony as well as Margaret Fingerhut's CD of most of the solo piano music. And all Lennox's music is partnered with an impressive array of works by Michael, with many first recordings.

It is widely agreed that future opportunities to build on this busy centenary year ought to involve Berkeley's grand opera Nelson, which was so well received at Sadler's Wells in 1954 but only revived in a BBC recording and a London concert performance in the 1980s. The bicentenary of the battle of Trafalgar in 2005 would be the ideal opportunity to see Nelson back on stage. In the meantime one of the most encouraging developments has been the continued progress of the Lennox Berkeley Society, founded by Kathleen Walker and Jim Nicol, and the excellent results under the chairmanship of David Wordsworth and his colleagues. This has brought together performers, promoters, writers, sponsors and enthusiasts in a productive range of continually expanding activities, which augurs extremely well for the future.

Finally, in reviewing the revised and enlarged edition of my book, The Music of Lennox Berkeley, Andrew Stewart sums up the situation:

'Dickinson's descriptions of Berkeley's works from the 1930s ... suggest that it was the composer's characteristic reserve rather than any lack of talent that prevented him from following Britten's stellar progress in the following decade. Those and later masterpieces, if this book is any guide, demand maximum exposure. In short, The Music of Lennox Berkeley paints a compelling portrait of a thoroughly decent man who happened to be a thoroughly decent and accomplished composer.' -- Classical Music, 11 October 2003, p42 (see the Lennox Berkeley Society website for the complete review)

Copyright © 7 December 2003 Peter Dickinson, Aldeburgh UK





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