The English Metaphysicals, notably John Donne, have contributed a fruitful source of texts for Burgon’s choral music. At the round earth’s imagined corners
shares certain overt elements in common with his later Nunc dimittis
setting, exploring the effective partnership of solo treble and organ graced by trumpet fanfares and interludes. The work, written in the summer of 1971 for his Guildhall School trumpet teacher Bernard Brown and his duo partner Felicity Palmer, opens with a simple melodic exchange between organ and muted trumpet. Burgon swiftly unfolds the notes of a C major triad across the treble’s first entry, engaging the stability of one of Western music’s basic building blocks as foundation for his contemplation of ‘the round earth’s imagined corners’. A swift central section, cast predominantly in triple time, sets out the catalogue of man’s mortality and God’s permanence. Purcell’s ghost appears to hover approvingly over the lean, penitential closing treatment of ‘here on this lowly ground’.
from notes by Andrew Stewart © 2006