Burgon: Choral Music

Burgon: Choral Music

Wells Cathedral Choir, Matthew Owens (conductor)


It is unlikely that Geoffrey Burgon will ever be caught arguing on the side of those who insist that ‘high’ art, especially in the form of contemporary classical music, is intrinsically superior to arts with genuine mass appeal.

Television credits include the music for Brideshead Revisited and the pop chart-topping Nunc dimittis (recorded here) which introduced the BBC’s John le Carré adaptation Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy in 1979.

But commercial success should not prevent us from recognizing, and appreciating, a depth of invention and mastery of formal conception which might just as well be described as being firmly rooted in the classical tradition, and particularly that of the Anglican Church.

The fourteen works recorded here range from the contemplative of the Nunc dimittis to the ceremonial of an anthem such as At the round earth’s imagined corners where the familiar Donne text receives a thoroughly fresh interpretation. This is music reaching out to a modern desire for immediate accessibility masking consummate artistry: ‘I can’t believe it’s not Rutter’, perhaps …

Wells Cathedral Choir has made several recordings for Hyperion’s ‘English Hymn’ series and an acclaimed disc of music by Herbert Howells (CDA67494). This is the choir’s first recording under new Director of Music Matthew Owens and promises much for the future.

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