Burgon’s syllabic setting of the Latin Mass text, the work’s use of concordant harmonies and its largely homophonic texture were in tune with ideals established for church music during the Second Vatican Council and comparable trends within the Anglican Church during the early 1960s. The brief embellishments and alternating paired voice parts in the Agnus Dei, however, echo a long-distant English choral technique regularly employed in the late fifteenth century. The young composer here balances the demands of changing liturgical practices with the legacy of tradition, a neat achievement for a creative artist who later avowed a deep dislike for organized religion. His writing, especially in the brief yet highly charged Benedictus, manages to sound both timeless and strikingly modern, a condition common to much of Burgon’s substantial output of music for choir.
from notes by Andrew Stewart © 2006
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