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NX 0415

BERKELEY: String Quartets Nos. 1-3

The Classical Shop
release date: November 2011


Sophisticated Lady Jazz Quartet


Sophisticated Lady Jazz Quartet


Potton Hall, Westleton, Suffolk, England

Record Label




Total Time - 63:02
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BERKELEY: String Quartets Nos. 1-3



Select Complete Single Disc for

String Quartet No. 1, Op. 6

1 I. Allegro - Moderato 7:51
2 II. Andante non troppo - Lento 5:55
3 III. Scherzo: Vivace 3:53
4 IV. Theme and 6 variations: Moderato 8:48

String Quartet No. 2, Op. 15

5 I. Allegro moderato 7:12
6 II. Lento 5:30
7 III. Allegro 5:48

String Quartet No. 3, Op. 76

8 I. Allegro moderato 4:32
9 II. Allegro vivace 2:21
10 III. Lento 6:05
11 IV. Molto vivace 5:07
 Sophisticated Lady Jazz Quartet Ensemble

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.

"For all Berkeley’s French training (with Nadia Boulanger) and French refinement of technique, his quartet idiom is very English, closer to Britten and Tippett than to Ravel. The first of his three fine quartets, dating from 1935, is a big four-movement essay combining vigour and lyrical sweetness in a fetching manner, the sweetness most manifest in the andante non troppo second movement and the theme-and-variations finale, though there is a sweetness – or, at any rate, a svelteness – to the craftsmanship throughout. Both the three-movement Second Quartet (1941) and the more astringent, four-movement Third (1970) have powerful lentos. The Magginis play with passionate conviction and sumptuous style." ***

Paul Driver - The Sunday Times - January 2008

"The Magginis’ passion for British music never ends, and they’re fierily eloquent in Berkeley’s three quartets. The first quartet of 1935, clean and astringent, sticks to the usual mid-20th-century influences – Bartók, Stravinsky. The second is more fluid and personal. The third (1970) is the best: introspective, wistful, with some lovely ghostly effects. All contain tender, songful slow movements. Music worth getting to know, especially with the Magginis playing." ***

Geoff Brown - The Times - December 2007

"...At last, these landmark works are on disc – in magnificent performances, too"

Peter Dickinson - Gramophone magazine - February 2008

"Lennox Berkeley’s three string quartets span almost the same period as Britten’s work in the medium, from the 1930s to the 1970s. There the similarity ends, for Berkeley’s are both more cosmopolitan-sounding and arguably less groundbreaking. But they are powerful, often intense works, infused, too, with a sense of fun – particularly in the more Bartókian No 1 – which the Maggini Quartet takes in its stride. The players’ ensemble is impeccable while allowing individualism free rein in the more contrapuntal passages."

Matthew Rye - Daily Telegraph - January 2008

                Performance *****     Sound *****

"...The Maggini, again, deserve full marks for their superb readings of these beautiful and hugely rewarding works. I do not know where we would be without them. This is a splendid release on all counts and my Bargain of the Month."

Martin Cotton - BBC Music Magazine - February 2008

"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 Maggini play these rewarding scores with great dedication: the contribution of Lorraine McAslan as leader is particularly impressive, especially in the lyrical slow movement of No. 1. The recording, made at Potton Hall, has clarity and presence."   ***

Penguin Guide - January 2009

"...The Maggini, again, deserve full marks for their superb readings of these beautiful and hugely rewarding works. I do not know where we would be without them. This is a splendid release on all counts and my Bargain of the Month."

Hubert Culot - - March 2008

"...this piece is expert and highly idiomatic, and the central slow movement—always a special feature of any Berkeley work in sonata layout—is beautifully sustained..."

Gramophone magazine -  January 2012

"...Berkeley’s First Quartet has some extraordinarily original features ... The recording quality of this CD is particularly outstanding..."

Robert Matthew-Walker - International Record Review - January 2012

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