£16 post free World-wide


555 sonatas 9Cds mp3 files
Only £22


Benjamin: Written on Skin £16

What's New
Previous CDs
Labels index

Every Day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor: Rob Barnett  
Founder Len Mullenger   


Some items
to consider


Enjoy the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra wherever you are. App available for iOS and Android

Tudor 1620 4CDs

Mahler 9 Elder

New Lyrita Release

British Violin and Cello Concertos

Lyrita New Recording

Ritchie Symphony 4

Dvorak Opera Premiere

Mozart concertos





Buy through MusicWeb for £11.00 postage paid World Wide. Try it on Sale or Return
You may prefer to pay by Sterling cheque or Euro notes to avoid PayPal. Contact for details

Musicweb Purchase button

Lennox BERKELEY (1903-1989)
Symphony No. 1 (1940) [30:59]
Symphony No. 2 (1956-57 rev. 1976) [1957 rev. 1976]
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Norman Del Mar (1); Nicholas Braithwaite (2)
rec. 1975-76. ADD
LYRITA SRCD.249 [62:03]


As he grew older Berkeley became increasingly sophisticated. Hearing his excellent music of the 1930s and 1940s this trend was not always to the good. While orchestral textures became lucid and transparent the emotional rewards became more slender as the years passed - more ascetic than passionate. Elegance and lucidity are there in quantity as you may find them in the later works of Walter Piston but majesty and the power to move operate at a distance. This may be the way you like your music - or the way you like it at times - but be aware.

The First Symphony is from the second year of WWII. Its first two movements while full of incident are busy and their lyricism partakes of that of Rawsthorne rather than the more emotionally upholstered voices of the British musical renaissance. Only in the long searching lines of the Lento does one feel the undertow of tragedy. For the finale the composer returns to a neo-classical busy-ness of the type we know so well from the Serenade for Strings. It leaves little impression behind.

The Second Symphony was commissioned by the Feeney Trust for the CBSO. The premiere was conducted by Andrzej Panufnik during his brief tenure in Britain's second city. This symphony too suffers from a certain opacity of expression and despite his revising ministrations in the 1970s an occasional thickness of voicings, a ponderous gait. This leaden weighing down is lifted by rhythmic material particularly to the fore in the allegro vivace which here seems to go less than vivace. The third movement is again a Lento - untouched by the 1970s adjustments. This has a sombre majesty that is most impressive - listen to the glowering brass chorale at 2.10 onwards - redolent of Rubbra's Eleventh Symphony. Once again the finale is more athletic and celebratory though ending with the feel of a sinfonietta rather than a grand symphony.

The Third Symphony in a single movement is also on Lyrita and is a fine concentrated piece where emotion and style are in ideal equipoise.

These two Berkeley symphonies derive from Lyrita Recorded Edition LPs: SRCS-80 Berkeley Symphony No. 1 Op. 16; Concerto for 2 Pianos and Orchestra Op. 30 (Beckett, McDonald - pianos/Del Mar, LPO) and SRCS-94 Berkeley Symphony No. 2 Op. 51; Piano Concerto in B flat Op. 29 (Wilde (piano) Braithwaite, LPO, NPO).

These are fine and handsomely recorded performances though I wonder whether things would have been better if a more winged mercurial approach had been evident in the second movement of the Second Symphony.

Rob Barnett

Lyrita Catalogue


Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on

Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical


Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Cameo Classics
Northern Flowers
Toccata Classics

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Return to Review Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.