The Sonatina for piano duet was written in 1954. It is one of a number of smaller-scale compositions which appeared during the period of relaxation that followed the hard work of the grand opera Nelson
, completed earlier in the same year. Berkeley had long appreciated both the musical and the social enjoyment to be gained from the piano-duet medium. His experience tells in the Sonatina. In all three movements the judicious spacing and interweaving of the hands aids the transparency of the textures.
Harmonically, the interval of the fourth is decisive and its use is typical of Berkeley’s method at the time. This, combined with strong rhythmic interest, gives the work a neo-classic feel. Of equal importance, however, as always in Berkeley’s music, are the contrasting sections where melody predominates.
from notes by James Rushton © 1983