Ravel; Berkeley; Pounds. Sinfonia of London / John Wilson

Ravel; Berkeley; Pounds. Sinfonia of London / John Wilson

CHSA 5324 (Chandos Records, SACD)

FIRST RELEASE (9 February 2024)

Playing time: 65'50"
Tracks: 12
Booklet pages: 32
℗ 2024 Chandos Records Ltd
© 2024 Chandos Records Ltd
Main country of recording: United Kingdom
Reviewer: Geoff Pearce
Review of Ravel; Berkeley; Pounds. Sinfonia of London / John Wilson published on 12 January 2024

Sinfonia of London
John Mills, leader
John Wilson, conductor

Maurice Ravel:

Le Tombeau de Couperin, M 68a (suite for orchestra, 1919, based on Nos 1, 3, 5 and 4 from Six Pieces for Piano, Two Hands, M 68, 1914-17)
1 Prélude
2 Forlane
3 Menuet
4 Rigaudon

Lennox Berkeley:

Divertimento in B flat, Op 18 (1943)
5 Prelude
6 Nocturne
7 Scherzo
8 Finale

Adam Pounds:

Symphony No 3 (2021; first recording)
9 Largo - Poco più mosso - Allegro - Largo - Allegro - Largo - Poco più mosso - Tempo I
10 Tempo di Waltz
11 Elegy (hommage to Anton Bruckner)
12 Allegro moderato - Largo - A tempo I

The three composers whose works appear on this album are interconnected: Ravel was a mentor to Lennox Berkeley, and Berkeley to Pounds. Le Tombeau de Couperin marks Ravel's movement towards neoclassicism, its forms and style a re-invention of ones from the French baroque. Originally written for solo piano, the movements of the suite were dedicated to friends whom Ravel had lost in the First World War. In 1919 he orchestrated four of the six movements (the version performed here). Berkeley met Ravel a number of times in the 1920s, working as an interpreter and tour-guide whilst Ravel was in London. Ravel advised him to study with Nadia Boulanger, which he did, between 1926 and 1932. Commissioned by Arthur Bliss for the BBC Symphony Orchestra in 1942, the Divertimento initially received a mixed reception, but has since found many supporters (including Pounds). The critic Peter Dickinson felt it showed an 'instinctive and unimpassioned creativeness associated with the French aesthetic, but by no means restricted to it'. Adam Pounds studied privately with Berkeley in London during the late 1970s, and in his own music has perpetuated the firm commitment of the two earlier composers to clarity and accessibility in everything they wrote. His Third Symphony was written in 2021 and is a response to the national lockdowns in 2020 and 2021 prompted by the COVID19 pandemic. Pounds states that the piece captures the 'sadness, humour, determination and defiance' which everyone faced at this time - not least musicians. Scored for relatively modest orchestral forces, the work is dedicated to Sinfonia of London and John Wilson who here give the work its first recording.

Recorded 22-24 November 2022 at the Church of St Augustine, Kilburn, London, UK.