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Lennox Berkeley: Chamber Music

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This album brings together four chamber works that span much of Lennox Berkeley's career, from his 1939 Sonatina for recorder or flute to his Quintet for piano and winds, written for the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in 1975. Berkeley wrote his 1944 Horn Trio for pianist Colin Horsley, horn player Dennis Brain, and violinist Manoug Parikian, and their recording for EMI remains a classic account of the work. This version, with pianist Raphael Terroni, horn player Stephen Stirling, and violinist Susanne Stanzeleit, has a rough-and-tumble quality that is a valid alternative approach given the character of the music, and its boisterous energy is commendable, even if it doesn't have the refined urbanity of the premiere recording. Stanzeleit's playing, though, is in nowhere the same league as Parikian's, a model of velvety tone and immaculate technique. The Sonatina may not be a work of great substance, but it is a charming neo-Classical miniature, and flutist Patrick Williams and pianist Terroni give it an elegant, delicate reading. The Quintet for piano and winds, although written 30 years after the Horn Trio, has some of the playful character of the earlier work, although it is less freely whimsical and its harmonic and melodic language are more astringent and abstract. It receives a fine performance from Terroni and members of the New London Chamber Ensemble. Naxos' sound is clean and present.

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