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