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CHAN 10528
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CHAN 10528

Songs of Sir Lennox Berkeley

The Classical Shop
release date: June 2009

Recorded in 24 Bit / 96Khz
album available as a Studio Master
Originally recorded in 2008


Alison Nicholls


Anna Tilbrook


James Gilchrist



Potton Hall Studio, Westleton, Suffolk


Rachel Smith


Jonathan Cooper

Paul Quilter


Record Label


Vocal & Song


Total Time - 68:17
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D'un vanneur de ble aux vents (1924, revised 1925)

  To John Greenidge  
 Anna Tilbrook piano
premiere recording

Tombeaux (1926)

2 1 De Sapho. Très lent 4:43
3 2 De Socrate. Moderato 1:46
4 3 D'un fleuve. Con moto 0:37
5 4 De Narcisse. Triste et lent 1:52
6 5 De Don Juan. Vif 1:11
 Anna Tilbrook piano

How love came in (1933)

 Anna Tilbrook piano
premiere recording

Bells of Cordoba (1938)

  from Five Songs, Op. 14 No. 2  
  To Mrs J.L. Behrend  
 Anna Tilbrook piano

Five Poems of W.H. Auden, Op. 53 (1958)

  To Mrs Alice Esty  
9 I Lauds. Among the leaves the small birds sing. Allegretto - meno vivo 2:11
10 II O lurcher-loving collier, black as night. Andante 2:24
11 III What's in your mind, my dove, my coney. Moderato 1:43
12 IV Eyes look into the well. Lento 2:23
13 V Carry her over the water. Moderato 1:20
 Anna Tilbrook piano
premiere recording

Five Herrick Poems, Op. 89 (1973-74, revised 1976)

  For Peter Pears  
14 I Now is your turne, dearest, to be-set. Andante 1:15
15 II Dearest of thousands, now the time draws neare. Lento 2:48
16 III These springs were maidens once that lov'd. Allegretto 1:22
17 IV My God! look on me withe'eye. Slow and freely 2:34
18 V If nine times you your bridegroom kisse. Allegro 0:53
 Alison Nicholls harp
premiere recording

Autumn's Legacy, Op. 58 (1962)

  To Edward Sackville  
19 I The mighty thoughts of an old world. Allegro moderato 2:19
20 II All night a wind of music. Vivace 1:02
21 III Lesbos. Andante 2:33
22 IV Tonight the winds begin to rise. Allegro - Un poco meno vivo - 2:34
23 V Hurrahing in Harvest. Moderato - Pu poco più vivo - 3:11
24 VI Rich Days. Allegretto 1:23
25 VII When we were idlers with the loitering rills. Andante 3:12
 Anna Tilbrook piano

Automne, Op. 60 No. 3 (1963)

  In memory of Francis Poulenc  
 Anna Tilbrook piano

Ode du premier jour de Mai (1940)

  from Five Songs, Op. 14 No. 2  
 Anna Tilbrook piano
premiere recording

Sonnet, Op. 102 (1982)

  For Hugues Cuénod with lofve and admiration  
 Anna Tilbrook piano

Five Chinese Songs, Op. 78 (1970)

  To Meriel and Peter Dickinson  
29 1 People Hide Their Love. Andante con moto 2:27
30 2 The Autumn Wind. Allegretto, gently flowing 1:49
31 3 Dreaming of a Dead Lady. Slow, sustained and intense - Warm 2:11
32 4 Late Spring. Moderato - Meno vivo 1:43
33 5 The Riverside Village. Calm and slow (Andante tranquillo) 2:16
 Anna Tilbrook piano

Acclaimed as a concert soloist, recitalist and a recording artist, James Gilchrist is one of the finest British tenors of today.  In his first solo disc for Chandos, he performs a representative survey of the songs of Lennox Berkeley which demonstrates the distinctly Gallic flavour inspired by his time in France along with a spiritual intensity from his devotion to Roman Catholicism.  James is accompanied by Anna Tilbrook on piano and Alison Nicholls on harp.  

This collection, of complete song cycles and individual songs is offered in a more-or-less chronological layout and presents five premiere recordings: Autumn’s Legacy, Cocteau’s Tombeau, Bells of Cordoba, Five Herrick Poems and Sonnet Op. 102.  The miniature cycle, Cocteau’s Tombeau dates from Berkeley’s first year in Paris where he went to study with Nadia Boulanger and is characteristic of Les six.  Autumn’s Legacy is recognised as Berkeley’s most ambitious cycle, commissioned by the Cheltenham Festival.  The seven songs draw on a variety of poets including Beddoes, Lawrence Durrell, Tennyson and Hopkins – which show the range of Berkeley’s reading.  

James Gilchrist writes of the recording project, ‘I was enormously excited to be given this opportunity to record some of Berkeley’s songs.  I’ve long known and loved many.  But putting together this disc has allowed Anna and me to study his songs in some detail and find many new treasures.  There is a strikingly varied approach to his setting of song, from sparse simplicity to almost over-egged lusciousness.  But throughout is a truly individual voice.  Recording the monumental Autumn’s Legacy was a huge challenge, and Berkeley is able to find a convincing musical voice for Hopkins, a poet whom I feel often sees composers stumble.  And it’s striking how Berkeley kept coming back to setting French poems, with great success.’

This collection helps to reveal the status of Berkeley’s vocal music, which makes an unrivalled contribution to the central repertoire of songs in the English – and partly French – tradition.  Peter Dickinson provides extensive booklet notes about each individual song. 

“At last a disc devoted to the forgotten songs of Lennox Berkeley. Gilchrist is his own man: a fine artist and particularly well suited to these songs. Anna Tilbrook is the totally admirable accompanist, with Alison Nicholls the harpist in the attractive Herrick settings.”

John Steane

Gramophone - September 2009

“Tenor James Gilchrist has long been a supporter of the music of Lennox Berkeley and is a powerful advocate on this selection of songs many of which receive their premiere recordings here. Gilchrist sounds ravishing, and is ably supported by Tilbrook and Nicholls”

Warwick Thompson

Classic FM Magazine - October 2009

                 Performance ****     Recording ****

“Gilchrist’s smooth, lightish tenor is the ideal voice for this repertoire: few singers have this ease in floating a line without guttural interruption – in the melisma of ‘De Socrate’ from the Cocteau cycle Trombeaux for example. He demonstrates his characteristic feeling for the words in all these songs, but especially in the multi-poet cycle Autumn’s Legacy. Anna Tilbrook partners with insight and a subtle ear for capturing a song’s mood through timbre; and Alison Nicholls proves equally involving in the harp-accompanied Five Herrick Poems.”

Matthew Rye


BBC Music Magazine - September 2009

“These are wonderful songs of loss and regret tinged with melancholy at the passing of the seasons and the transience of human existence: Gilchrist and Tilbrook make them their own.”

Christopher Cook

International Record Review - September 2009

“The tenor James Gilchrist sings sweetly and cleanly, without affection, and Anna Tilbrook is finely responsive to the subtleties of the piano parts.”

The Telegraph - June 2009

“Gilchrist is magnificent. His supple voice caresses these texts with utter grace, and his legato singing is lovely. Anna Tilbrook and Alison Nicholls supply wonderful accompaniment. The sound is excellent. The liner notes include informative commentary by Peter Dickinson and Tony Scotland and complete texts. Berkeley’s unjustly neglected songs get the excellent performances they deserve.”

R Moore

American Record Guide - November/December 2009

“Gilchrist gives consistently wonderful performances of these works, with his clear voice and intelligent interpretations he is quite masterful at the English songs, in particular, and is well matched to his accompanist Anna Tilbrook, who responds admirably to Berkeley’s keen grasp of counterpoint (presumably learnt under Boulanger) which underpins much of his keyboard writing. Alison Nicholls’ deft harp-technique delivers a welcome change of texture at the mid-point of this recording and she makes light work of what is very difficult music indeed. In some ways I would have enjoyed more obvious changes of atmosphere between the French and English works, in particular, but such is the potency of Berkeley’s textures that on repeated listening this ceases to matter.
As ever with Chandos, the album is beautifully presented and recorded with their characteristic clarity and depth of field, all of which really captures the enjoyment of these artists in their performances. It is wonderful to have such a collection of Berkeley’s songs and this album is sure to inspire many listeners to discover more of his music.”

Ed Breen

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