This album is licensed for download from Chandos.
Kathryn Stott is one of Britain's most versatile and imaginative musicians and among today's most engaging pianists. She has appeared in nearly a dozen BBC proms since 2010.
Lennox Berkeley's two-piano concerto, written in one of the most fertile periods of his career, is a highly effective showpiece for its soloists, which nevertheless avoids the obvious in terms of form and treatment. Lennox Berkeley wrote his Concerto for Two Pianos in 1948 in response to a commission from the Henry Wood Concert Society. The medium of the double concerto was a comparatively unusual one, though there were significant precedents in works by Berkeley's idol Mozart, and also Brahms and Poulenc. Berkeley himself said in a programme note that his intention was ‘to contrast the sound of two pianofortes with that of the orchestra, avoiding thereby the familiar textures of the ordinary one-pianoforte concerto. The soloists, therefore, are nearly always used as a unit, and not as individuals.'
Michael Berkeley's Gregorian Variations for large orchestra was completed in 1982, with the premise ‘to make it accessible to a lay audience at first hearing'. He chose to base it on the Gregorian plainchant he had absorbed as a boy chorister in Westminster Cathedral. Despite its title, the work does not consist of variations on a single theme, but is a continuous fantasia based on a number of different chant melodies. In the years after the Gregorian Variations, Michael Berkeley's style has undergone considerable development, with results that are apparent in the Concerto for Orchestra of 2004/5. The music is more consistent, without stylistic references: it is much more chromatic and less obviously tonal or modal, though key-centres remain as points of anchorage beneath the surface.
This final volume concludes one of Britain's most important recording projects in recent years, and the complete series provides an important document of Twentieth Century British music. A collector's dream.