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Cat. No. CHAN 10592 Price: £10.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 10592 - Burgon: Merciless Beauty /  Concertos
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Available From: 01 April 2010
Geoffrey Burgon: Viola Concerto; Cello Concerto; Merciless Beauty, City of London Sinfonia, Rumon Gamba

This release offers the premiere recording of Geoffrey Burgon’s viola and cello concertos, alongside the song cycle Merciless Beauty.

For a generation and more of television watchers and filmgoers with even a passing interest in music, the name of the British composer Geoffrey Burgon is associated with a string of successful soundtrack scores: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, The Chronicles of Narnia, and many others. His masterful score for Brideshead Revisited, described as ‘the greatest score ever written for television’, earned Burgon an Ivor Novello Award. However, ‘concert music’ has always been the main thrust of his work, which, whilst being sophisticated in structure, speaks powerfully and directly to audiences and musicians alike. His love of the voice has led Burgon to write probably more song cycles than any other living composer and these successes have tended to overshadow his smaller output of purely orchestral music. This new album helps to rectify that imbalance.

Merciless Beauty, originally for counter-tenor, is here, at the invitation of the composer, sung by the mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly. The Viola Concerto Ghosts of the Dance was commissioned by our present soloist, Philip Dukes. Burgon writes: ‘Whilst writing it I felt the music being pulled in the direction of thirties American dance music. Then I got a strong image of a dance hall in a small American town, where a dance endurance competition was taking place. These were a feature of the depression era in the US.’ The album is completed by the Cello Concerto, inspired by Alexander Kok, the last surviving founder member of the Philharmonia Orchestra, and completed with advice concerning the solo part from Josephine Knight who here takes the solo part.


“…The three substantial recent works featured on this disc (including premiere recordings of the concerti) now form a poignant introduction to those who only know the polished film and TV work of this distinguished concert composer.”
Tim Mottershead

Tempo Magazine - January 2011

“Performances by all three soloists and the City of London Sinfonia are excellent , as are Chando’s sonics.

American Record Guide - September - October 2010

                        Performance ****      Recording ****
Martin Cotton

BBC Music Magazine - September 2010

“…The City of London Sinfonia under Rumon Gamba seems to relish this music, as it should. Burgeon is a master story-teller who doesn’t need the support of celluloid to keep an audience on the edge of its seat.”
Robert Levett

International Record Review - July/August 2010

“A ghostly viola concerto forms an effective, expressive centrepiece.” “…A film sensibility may lie at the core of Burgon’s musical personality but there is much here in terms of expressive weight and musical content to ensure that his musical stands firm without the need for visual support.”
Pwyll ap Sion

Gramophone - July 2010

“Two terrific concertos and a song cycle for the ages in this remarkable offering.”
“Sarah Connolly … sings brilliantly.” “Phillip Dukes and Josephine Knight are respectively resplendent in their solo efforts, while Gamba’s Sinfonia plays to utter delight. Sound couldn’t be bettered …” “Don’t miss this one.” *****
Steven Ritter

Audiophile Audition - 20 May 2010

“Geoffrey Burgeon’s slinky, jazz-inflected viola concerto  Ghosts of the Dance conveys colour, character and narrative in economical writing.
In the Cello Concerto it is the percussion that catches the ear, teasing and vexing the spiralling phrases of the soloist. Supported by Rumon Gamba and the City of London Sinfonia, Philip Dukes and Josephine Knight favour an almost vocal style of harrowed lyricism, while Sarah Connolly claims the 1997 song cycle written for James Bowman as her own. Merciless beauty, indeed.”
Anna Picard

The Independent - 9 May 2010


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