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BERKELEY: String Quartets Nos. 1-3

Composer(s):Berkeley, Lennox
Artist(s) Maggini Quartet, Ensemble
Period(s) 20th Century
Genre Classical Music
Category Chamber Music
Catalogue 8.570415
Label Naxos
Quality   320kbps
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Central to Lennox Berkeley’s chamber music output are the three string quartets that occur at regular intervals during the first half of his career. The First Quartet suggests the presence of Bartók and Stravinsky, its style recalling Berkeley’s years in Paris, while by the time of the Second Quartet, in which the balance between formal clarity and expressive depth is effortlessly achieved, these influences have been thoroughly absorbed. Written in 1970, the Third Quartet features one of the composer’s finest slow movements, a Lento which begins with ghostly harmonics before building to a climax of considerable intensity.


Review By Penguin Guide,January 2009

One does not associate Lennox Berkeley with the quartet medium, but these three pieces are characteristic and powerful. The First Quartet comes from 1935 and shows a debt to Stravinsky and Bartók, as well as the composer’s strong Gallic sympathies. It was the year when Berkeley first got to know his friend, Benjamin Britten, whose influence is already reflected in the finale here. The Second is a wartime work, coming from the same period as the Divertimento and the First Symphony. It too has a certain astringency, as does the Third, composed in 1970, written in the immediate wake of the Third Symphony and notable for an ethereal slow movement, bringing an intense, emotional climax, resolved in the sharply rhythmic finale. The


Review By David Denton, Naxos,December 2007

Lennox Berkeley was one of a group of English composers who worked around the mid-part of the 20th century, and though their music was much admired by the critics, it seldom received a similar response from concert promoters. In 1927 he went to live in Paris for five years as a pupil of Boulanger, and in a way this separated him at a crucial point in time from the nationalism that was sweeping through the UK. He was to become a prolific composer whose output included three symphonies, though much of his time was spent teaching at London's Royal Academy of Music where his pupils included Richard Rodney Bennett and Nicholas Maw. In the event he was already thirty by the time his first work was published, and that places the first of his three string quartets - completed in 1935 -



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