Hyperion's championing of British composers goes on unabated. With this first issue dedicated to Geoffrey Burgon's choral works, the catalogue has been enriched with a truly versatile contemporary voice.
Born in 1941, Burgon was at first taken in by American Jazz but after lessons with Nadia Boulanger's pupil Peter Wishart, he was swayed to take up a musical career. His discovery of J.S. Bach's music was the final spur in convincing the composer to immerse himself in a life of artistic endeavour, and following his first choral piece in 1964; 'Three Élégies', he never looked back.
Although his musical language is infused with shades of Stravinsky, Britten and also medieval composers, I found his aesthetic range very much oriented towards the popular. His pieces are also extremely well crafted and accessible, although closer analysis reveals a wealth of invention and masterly command of the voice deeply rooted in the classical tradition.
The 'Short Mass' and 'The Song of the Creatures' are particularly striking. The Wells Cathedral Choir under Matthew Owens give compelling performances and the emotional and textural intensity of their singing does Burgon proud. As expected, sound and balance are of the very highest standards. A wonderful release that raises strong hopes for future discs from Burgon's extensive oeuvre.
Copyright © 2007, Gerald Fenech