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Lennox Berkeley String Quartets

No. 1. Op. 6 (1935);
No 2. Op. 15 (1941)
No. 3. Op. 76 (1970)

Maggini Quartet Lorraine McAslan, David Angel, Martin Outram, Michal Kaznowski

Naxos 8.570415

Lennox Berkeley (1903-1989) has suffered from being in the shadow of Britten, whose string quartets, especially Nos. 2 & 3, are firmly in the repertoire. But it should not be that some of us scarcely know Berkeley's and that they are surely played far too rarely?

It was a particular pleasure to hear the first from 1935, stemming from his study with Nadia Boulanger, just after reviewing an engrossing DVD about her as teacher.

The music is clear, incisive and its idiom one which has not staled with time passed. No 2 is richer in expression with a thoughtful central Lento in which 'a number of motives are resourcefully discussed' (Richard Whitehouse). In the last of his quartets serial technique is introduced, but definitely nothing to be frightened of...

Splendid performances by one of UK's best string quartets, recorded last December in the ideal acoustic of Potton Hall.

Peter Grahame Woolf