- Piano Concerto in B flat major, Op. 29
- Concerto for Two pianos and Orchestra, Op. 30
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Of the generation of English composers born around the turn of the last century, Lennox Berkeley is much less celebrated than Britten, Walton, and Tippet. Perhaps it's his style. Where Britten, Walton, and Tippet are each in their own way highly individualistic composers, Berkeley is audibly indebted to the French composers of the inter-war period, and as exemplified in two works on this disc -- the "Piano Concerto" of 1947 and the "Two Piano Concerto" from 1948 -- his style has the easy elegance, the sparkling colors, and the dry-eyed sentimentality of Poulenc balanced by a distinctly English ironic sincerity that makes his music at once deeply evocative and highly elusive. In these brilliantly played performances by pianist David Wilde with Nicholas Braithwaite leading the New Philharmonia Orchestra and duo pianists Garth Beckett and Boyd McDonald with Norman del Mar conducting the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Berkeley's music is charming and energetic on the surface with glistening tunes, glinting sonorities, and engaging developments. But even these spirited and dedicated performances can't make the music memorable, and Berkeley's music, for all its elegant irony, ultimately sounds emotionally empty. Richly, cleanly, and clearly recorded in stereo in the '70s by Lyrita, these recordings make the best possible case for the music, and anyone who knows and loves the music of Britten, Walton, and Tippet may be interested in hearing what Berkeley has to offer.