Lord Berners (1883-1950)

Donald Macleod explores colourful life and music of English eccentric Lord Berners.


01Berners The Humorist *20080915

Donald Macleod concentrates on a Berners' work for puppet theatre, an exuberant essay in Spanish colour and a trio of waltzes which contain a passage Stravinsky described as 'one of the most impudent in modern music'.

Du bist wie eine blume (Three Songs in the German Manner)

Felicity Lott (soprano)

Peter Lawson (piano)


Le poisson d'or

Len Vorster (piano)

MARCO POLO 8.225159 T5

Three Pieces for Orchestra

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra

Barry Wordsworth (conductor)


L'uomo dai baffi

English Northern Philharmonia

David Lloyd-Jones (conductor)

MARCO POLO 8.223711 T20-26

Valses bourgeoises

Peter Lawson, Alan MacLean (piano)


Fantaisie espagnole

02Berners And Diaghilev20080916

Berners' idiosyncratic ways did not deter some of the greatest artistic talents of the time from working with him, including figures such as Serge Diaghilev.

Donald introduces two works commissioned by the renowned impresario - Berners' first and only opera and the suite from his fairytale ballet.

Trois Chansons

Felicity Lott (soprano)

Peter Lawson (piano)

ALBANY TROY 290 - Trs 6-8

Le Carosse du Saint-Sacrement (Scs 7, 8)

The Viceroy....Ian Caddy (baritone)

La Perichole....Cynthia Buchan (soprano)

Thomas d'Esquivel....Thomas Lawlor

Bishop of Lima....Anthony Smith

Balthasar (Viceroy's servant)....John Winfield

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra

Nicholas Cleobury (conductor)

MARCO POLO 8.225155 - Trs 9,10

Fugue in C minor

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra

Barry Wordsworth (conductor)


The Triumph of Neptune

03Berners The Ballet Master20080917

Following the great Wall Street Crash of 1929, Berners felt the need for a reliable source of income and soon returned to writing music.

Donald introduces Berners' next two ballets composed after his hiatus - one devised in collaboration with the American writer Gertrude Stein, about unrequited love, and the other a fantastical work featuring a three-headed man, a three-legged juggler, a one-legged ballerina and a man with six arms.


Royal Ballet Sinfonia

Gavin Sutherland (conductor)

MARCO POLO 8.225155 - Tr 1

Luna Park

RTE Sinfonietta

Kenneth Alwyn (conductor)

MARCO POLO 8.223716 - Trs 6-10

A Wedding Bouquet

RTE Choir

MARCO POLO 8.223716 - Trs 1-4

04Berners The Versatile Poet20080918

Lord Berners was not only just a skilful composer, but also a successful painter and writer, who produced short stories, extensive memoirs, a play and seven novels.

Donald Macleod explores Berners's literary endeavours and introduces music from the war-time years, including a ballet based on the legend of Cupid and Psyche and his first venture into film music.

Lullaby and The Green-Eyed Monster from Three English Songs

Felicity Lott (soprano)

Peter Lawson (piano)

ALBANY TROY290 - Tr 12

Cupid and Psyche

RTE Sinfonietta

David Lloyd-Jones (conductor)

MARCO POLO 8.223780 - Trs 12-18

Red Roses and Red Noses

ALBANY TROY290 - Tr 26

Halfway House suite

BBC Concert Orchestra

Rumon Gamba (conductor)

CHANDOS CHAN 10459 - Trs 19-24

05 LASTBerners The Socialite20080919

Berners spent his life mixing with some of the most conspicuous names in the artistic world, having fruitful collaborations with personalities including Diaghilev, George Balanchine, Gertrude Stein, Sacheverell Sitwell and Constant Lambert.

Donald Macleod introduces Berners' fifth ballet, which was to be his final association with Frederick Ashton and Cecil Beaton, and the suite from his very last work - the score for the 1947 film of Charles Dickens' Nicholas Nickleby.

Come on, Algernon

Mary Carewe (soprano)

BBC Concert Orchestra

Rumon Gamba (conductor)


CHAN 104590 - Tr 16

Les sirenes

RTE Sinfonietta

David Lloyd-Jones (conductor)

MARCO POLO 8.223780 - Trs 1-10

Nicholas Nickleby Suite

CHAN10459 - T18

The Sailor's Return (The Triumph of Neptune)

Robert Grooters (baritone)

Philadelphia Orchestra

Thomas Beecham (conductor)