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Its success surely arises from the fact that it is so idiomatic in guitaristic terms, yet at the same time it is truly representative of the elegant musical style which we expect of a Berkeley composition. As well as beautiful melodic and harmonic progressions, the writing has great variety of texture and rhythmic pattern, making the Sonatina a demanding piece for guitarists. All recorded versions show technical command, but some lack attention to detail, particularly with respect to dynamics and rests.
Composed in , the Sonatina was dedicated to Julian Bream, who gave its first performance at Morley College, London, on March 9 This first version on disc shows a strong sense of direction in each of the three movements and a feeling of overall unity. His middle movement Lento is smooth and expressive, has careful dynamic changes but is not too slow. This version also has the merit of a final movement Rondo which is more measured than most, thus correctly observing the given tempo marking Allegro non troppo.
The pace of both the first movement Allegretto and last Rondo seem just right. Melodic lines are played with lovely cantabile and again the Lento is persuasive. The playing is a little more flexible than on some versions - Herring eases forward movement at times, and is thus able to reveal the eloquence of the musical language.
Unusually, the guitar used is a ten-stringed instrument. The above choices are recommended, but of course other recordings will have their merits, and the reviewer has not heard all CD issues of the Sonatina.
Sonatina for Guitar
Sonatina for Guitar Op.52 by Lennox Berkeley