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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: 12 minutes 15 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' (Classical.net)

The song of the creatures
First line:
Here begin the Lauds of the creatures
composer
1987
author of text
Canticle of the Sun

Introduction
In July 1987 Burgon completed his longest work for choir since The Fire of Heaven fourteen years earlier. The song of the creatures was commissioned for the Choir of St Matthew’s Church, Northampton, begetters of a remarkable series of miniature choral masterpieces by, among others, Britten, Berkeley, Kenneth Leighton, Edmund Rubbra and Gerald Finzi. Its form frames and articulates the canticle attributed to St Francis of Assisi, supposedly written by him while he ‘lay sick at Saint Damiano’. The saint’s song is delivered from the perspective of a blind man, unable to see the sun but as sure of its presence as he is of the splendour of God’s creation. Burgon’s litany of praises eventually settles on an instantly memorable hymn-like tune, itself prefaced by a majestic organ outburst and quietly revealed by a succession of unison trebles and tenors. An animated version of the same melody for a duet of solo treble and tenor gives way to a heartfelt choral benediction for those who ‘find themselves in thy most holy will’ and a return to the unison writing of the work’s opening.

from notes by Andrew Stewart 2006

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