Donne’s Death be not proud
demands and receives a humble musical setting. Burgon’s anthem dwells on the transitory nature of sound itself, emerging from a single organ note to build a ‘pealing’ texture of sustained chords crowned by bell-like descending scales in the top treble part. The Nunc dimittis
trio of organ, solo trumpet and treble is revived for the work’s brief central section, modified with the addition of a second solo treble to articulate the words ‘And better than thy stroke’. Death’s own mortality turns on a striking and sudden modulation, like an act of banishment, from a tonality implicitly rooted in F major to the remote region of E flat minor.
from notes by Andrew Stewart © 2006