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Penguin Guide, January 2009

Lord Berners was a diplomat as well as a musician and was essentially self-taught. Berners’s witty eccentricity and hints of Gallic wit, within a musical style that often retained an underlying Englishness, is demonstrated subtly here in the opening Polka. The minuscule, lovelorn Le Poisson d’or was based on his own poem and has a certain Debussian atmosphere, while the Trois petites marches and Fragments psychologiques are Satiesque, and not just in their titles. The longest of the piano pieces is the engagingly nostalgic Valse.

Berners’s pastiche of German Lieder has the piano opening gruffly to contrast a lyrical vocal line, romantically addressing a white pig. The French chansons, however, are not parodies but readily idiomatic, with La Fiancée du timbalier engagingly spirited. Of the English songs, Tom Filuter’s dialogue is brilliantly chimerical, and the 1920 set is most winning, especially the opening Lullaby. Come on Algernon, about the insatiable Daisy, who always ‘asked for more!’—is a perfect music-hall number, written for the film Champagne Charlie, and it makes a delightful pay-off to end the recital. Ian Partridge obviously relishes the many stylistic changes like a vocal chameleon, and his words are clear too. Len Vorster backs him up splendidly and is completely at home in the solo piano music. The recording is truthful, and this makes a fine introduction to an underrated composer who has a distinctive voice of his own.



John Boyer
American Record Guide, December 2000

"Gerard Hugh Tyrwhitt-Wilson, Lord Berners (1883-1950), was the sort of multi-talented man who always made me green with envy. Educated at Eton, he was member of the Diplomatic Corps (Honorary Attache to the British Embassy in Constantinople and Rome), a writer (two volumes of autobiography and five novellas, a painter (exhibits at London's Lefevre Gallery, 1931 and 1936), and a published composer. That he was a member of the peerage does not help his case any.

"While largely self-taught, Berners was no dilettante. His music, though eclectic in style, is the work of a true musician who knows his trade. His ballet The Triumph of Neptune, written in 1926 for Diaghilev, has been recorded several times (Sept/Oct 1994 & 1998), and there is certainly enough evidence of real talent in this new recording to warrant our attention."



Nicholas Rast
The Daily Telegraph (Australia), July 2000

"Although Lord Berners (1883-1950) was essentially a self-taught composer, the music lessons he had from Tovey, Kretschmer and Casella, and the encouragement he received from Stravinsky, yielded a rich stylistic blend of romanticism and ironic wit. Len Vorster plays the piano pieces on this disc with idiomatic vigour (Polka, March and Valse) and suitably aggressive virtuosity (Fragments psychologiques and Trois Petites Marches funebres). The songs offer an even wider expressive range, and for these Vorster is joined by the tenor Ian Partridge in eloquent performances that savour the Straussian romanticism of the Lieder Album, the pointillistic impressionism of the Trois Chansons and the naturalistic directness of the Three English Songs and the three sea shanties Berners composed in 1921."





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