The first thing of any substance I ever heard by Berio was his Concerto for 2 Pianos, on an RCA record that has never been released on CD. It remains a favourite, regardless. Sinfonia is very fine, likewise Coro. I haven’t heard enough of the Chemins or Sequenza series to make an overall call, but what I have heard was of high quality. A piece called Points on the Curve to Find, a sort of mini piano concerto, seems to bring a Reichian element into Berio’s style, and it works, too.

I’m not sure I’d call myself a fan. Some works I really love; others leave me cold. I’ve been listening to Berio for about 30 years. I don’t know which grabbed me first, the Folk Songs or the Sinfonia. I do know the LP pictured was one of my first Berio purchases, circa 1978. It’s a two LP box. I may not be a confirmed Berio fan but I’m definitely a confirmed Berberian fan. Being a Mahlerite my favourite Berio work is, of course, Sinfonia. I own Boulez and Chailly’s recordings.

A bit of Grateful Dead trivia. Phil Lesh, the Grateful Dead’s amazing bass player, was a student of Berio’s at Mills College in the mid-60s. Berio was so impressed with Lesh’s skill as a composer, he invited him to be his apprentice in Italy. Lesh met Jerry Garcia shortly thereafter and he chose a different musical course … to the profound gratitude of Grateful Dead fans all over the world.

We’ll never know what the classical world lost but perhaps we hear a taste of what might have been during the Lesh-inspired second set Space segments during those interminable Grateful Dead shows.

Berio


Berberian

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