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ClassicsOnline Home » BERNERS: Songs / Piano Music
By Nicholas Rast
The Daily Telegraph (Australia)
"Although Lord Berners (1883-1950) was essentially a self-taught composer, the music lessons he had from Tovey, Kretschmer and Casella, and the encouragement he received from Stravinsky, yielded a rich stylistic blend of romanticism and ironic wit. Len Vorster plays the piano pieces on this disc with idiomatic vigour (Polka, March and Valse) and suitably aggressive virtuosity (Fragments psychologiques and Trois Petites Marches funebres). The songs offer an even wider expressive range, and for these Vorster is joined by the tenor Ian Partridge in eloquent performances that savour the Straussian romanticism of the Lieder Album, the pointillistic impressionism of the Trois Chansons and the naturalistic directness of the Three English Songs and the three sea shanties Berners composed in 1921."
Though Lord Gerald Hugh Tyrwhitt-Wilson Berners has been depicted as a typical English eccentric, he was far from that, and in his younger years held the high-ranking post of British consul in Rome. As family wealth did not require him to work, he spent much of his remaining life amusing himself and those around him. Yet in the field of music he worked extremely hard to perfect his compositions, and though his total output was modest, he did demonstrate the ability to write in every genre from opera to instrumental music. He remained wedded to melody as the basis for his scores, and while at times he poked fun at the musical establishment, he was always acutely aware of academic rectitude. An excellent miniaturist, the present disc contains most of the works he composed for solo piano, and for voice with piano accompaniment. It is music of refined charm, and whimsical good humour.
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BERNERS: Songs / Piano Music