MICHAEL BERKELEY (b.1948): Clarinet Quintet, Catch Me If You Can for Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon and Horn, Seven for Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Sring Trio, Harp and Percussion, Winter Fragments for Voice and Ensemble, Sonnet for Orpheus for Unaccompanied Voice.
Catalogue Number: 11U066
Label: Resonus Classics
Description: Unlike his father, Lennox, Michael Berkeley has never settled into a particularly personal and identifiable idiom, though his music has always been accessible and, to a greater or lesser extent, based in tonality. As he says in the extended interview in the booklet: "I just wanted to write the piece I was going to write." "You’ve always done what you felt like doing at that moment." "Yes – exactly." In the Clarinet Quintet, from 1983, he is at his most tonal, and the piece has something in common with Lennox's style. The work is in a single span, clearly subdivided into 'movements', with a jocular scherzo and a melancholy slow final section with a sense of farewell. Berkeley came somewhat under the influence of more modernist composers in the following decade, and Catch Me if You Can and the songs use a (somewhat) more modern vocabulary. The wind ensemble piece is a whirl of activity with a still centre; the songs, which set a variety of poets' 'winter' texts, are spare, with economical accompaniments. The other two pieces are from the 2000s, and have the deepest emotional content; both have a sense of Mahlerian Romanticism and loneliness in Nature, and the language is satisfyingly neo-romantic too. Texts included. Fleur Barron (mezzo), Berkeley Ensemble; Dominic Grier.