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Hyperion Records

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Three Ladies Singing (detail) by Louis Welden Hawkins (1849-1910)
Private Collection / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDH55421
Recording details: February 2006
Wells Cathedral, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Julian Millard
Release date: November 2006
Total duration: 5 minutes 6 seconds

'The national soundtrack for the past three decades … [Burgon] shows what can be done with some simple ideas and a top-flight cathedral choir' (The Independent)

'Geoffrey Burgon … has found a niche in contemporary English choral music because he wants to communicate, to write music that people want to hear … this immensely appealing music is superbly sung by the Wells Cathedral Choir who prove to have excellent soloists. The vivid direction by Matthew Owens is greatly aided by David Bednall's creative organ contribution and Hyperion's first-class recording in the cathedral. A disc well worth seeking out' (Gramophone)

'The girls and men of Wells Cathedral directed by Matthew Owens give a riveting performance enhanced by the playing of David Bednall and Alan Thomas … in the popular field Burgon presses all the right buttons without risk of compromise' (Choir & Organ)

'The music is gratefully written for voices, expertly performed, and warmly recorded' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Musically, these performances are all that could be wished for in terms of technical accomplishment' (Fanfare, USA)

'Strong performances from the Wells Cathedral girl choristers and lay clerks … I was soon persuaded that this recording is a welcome addition to the Burgon discography' (Cathedral Music)

'Hyperion’s sound is terrific (does anyone record English choirs better than they?) and the production first class' (Audiophile)

'Geoffrey Burgon's music is beautifully crafted with a wealth of invention and on this Hyperion Records CD a treat awaits for those already familiar with his works as well as those new to his music … the Short Mass is marvellously realised by the Choir of Wells Cathedral and their performances throughout are excellent' (Lifestyle Magazine)

'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 … closer analysis reveals a wealth of invention and masterly command of the voice deeply rooted in the classical tradition … 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' (

Of flowers and emeralds sheen
author of text
A Spiritual Canticle of the Soul and the Bridegroom Christ, stanza 30
translator of text

Of flowers and emeralds sheen uses Roy Campbell’s flowing interpretation of the thirtieth stanza of A Spiritual Canticle of the Soul and the Bridegroom Christ, which encapsulates the coruscating intensity of St John’s original verse. Written for the Choir of St Paul’s Cathedral in 2004 and dedicated to its then director of music, John Scott, Burgon’s unaccompanied four-part setting revels in the poem’s corporeal imagery. The ambiguity inherent in the words is reflected in the opening harmonies and the deliberate collision of two contrasting minor triads or minor seventh chords in the lower and upper voice parts. Burgon’s compositional strategy leads to a hypnotic solo setting of ‘Scorn not my humble ways’. It is hard to think of a more sensual conclusion to a sacred piece than that forged for Of flowers and emeralds sheen, or a text more suited to such treatment.

from notes by Andrew Stewart 2006

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