• 2222/2000/timp/str
  • 13 min
    • 2nd March 2024, St Peter Mancroft Church, Norwich, United Kingdom
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Programme Note

The Sinfonietta by Lennox Berkeley is an engaging two-movement work written in 1950, the year of the Festival of Britain, and dedicated to Anthony Bernard who conducted the première with the London Chamber Orchestra at the Wigmore Hall that same year. As in so much of Berkeley there is evidence of a French influence, which derives partly from his six years of study in Paris with Nadia Boulanger, and partly from his natural affinity with France.

Some lively chords in the first, Allegro section recall Petrushka - and Berkeley’s friendship with Stravinsky. Through the great Russian composer’s younger son, Soulima, who was a fellow student of Boulanger, Berkeley occasionally visited the Stravinskys' sprawling apartment in the Rue Saint-Honoré, and, already an admirer of the three Russian ballets, Petrushka, The Firebird and The Rite of Spring, he soon became fascinated by Stravinsky’s neo-classical style. The bittersweet harmonies of Berkeley’s friend Poulenc were also influential in his development as a composer, but the more lyrical sections of the Lento second movement and the intense and tender conversations between the violin and orchestra are evidence of Berkeley’s own unique originality.


Sinfonietta, Op. 34: I. Allegro
Sinfonietta, Op. 34: II. Lento - Allegro non troppo