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.