Although Arthur Benjamin was born in 1893, ten years before Lennox Berkeley, both composers can be considered to be products of the 20th century. Both were extremely prolific, and they excelled in practically every genre.
Pieces for solo piano span Berkeley's creative life from the early Toccata and Sonatina written in 1925 and 1929 respectively, to the 1982 Mazurka, a commission from the BBC to commemorate the 250th anniversary of Haydn's birth, but he was also prominent in his concertante works like the Piano Concerto (1947) and Concerto for 2 Pianos (1948). All the pieces on this issue display Berkeley's complete mastery of the instrument and his penchant for fastidious craftsmanship.
Arthur Benjamin was born in Sydney, but he moved to London aged 18, and with time, his career flourished. Apart from his superbly constructed large works, his light music is also skillfully contrived and has a strong lasting value. Indeed much of Benjamin's music has an irresistible wit and charm and no pianist has captured this aura more subtly than Lamar Crowson, the composer's marvelous American-born pupil.
Colin Horsely's inimitable pianism serves Berkeley's cause splendidly particularly in the 1945 Sonata which is full of imaginative ideas. This is an important gap-filler in the composer's discography in adequate sound and excellent annotations.
Copyright © 2008 by Gerald Fenech