Once again , though, the playing under Richard Hickox is all one could wish for. Michael Berkeley’s note referred to above identifies this as the planned sixth and last of these Berkeley albums. I hope not. This superbly conceived and executed series has been a landmark event: a model of its kind for British music.
International Record Review
Lennox Berkeley’s Concerto for Two Pianos of 1948 (the year of Michael’s birth, as it happens) is a two-movement work – a prelude followed by a set of enterprising variations in which Berkeley treats the two pianos as a single instrument. Kathryn Stott and Howard Shelley are the formidable exponents of this ‘super-piano’, while here and in the Michael Berkeley pieces Richard Hickox inspires incisive playing from the members of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. The recording from Swansea’s Brangwyn Hall, is among Chandos’s best.
BBC Music Magazine
Reviews from previous volumes:
‘This magnificent series devoted to the two Berkeleys’ continues… as in the previous three volumes there are revelations, with Richard Hickox as the ideal interpreter in every way.
Gramophone on CHAN 10167 (Volume 4)
But the highlight of the disc for me is Michael Berkeley’s Concerto for Orchestra: ‘Seascape’, written for the Proms in 2005, dedicated to conductor Richard Hickox, and darkly overshadowed by the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004, when Berkeley heard the grim news that a friend was amongst the victims. The slow movement is a threnody for solo trumpet, while the outer movements have a desperate energy and vivid detail that submerges the listener in startling colours and conflicting emotions. Performance and recording are superb, with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales playing as though their lives are at stake in this turbulent seascape. If the Berkeley Edition has to end here, at least it’s on a real high.
A fascinating programme, extremely well played and recorded.
The Sunday Times ‘CD of the Week’ on CHAN 9981 (Volume 1)
The magnificently rewarding Berkeley Edition under Richard Hickox comes to an end with major works by both father and son.
…the festive and sparkling Two-Piano Concerto that he turned out in 1948, here played to perfection by Kathryn Stott, Howard Shelley, and the BBC Wales… This [Seascapes] is music of considerable eloquence and power. As in all the releases in the series, performances and sonics are nigh ideal.
American Record Guide