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Track(s) taken from CDH55421

Of flowers and emeralds sheen

author of text
A Spiritual Canticle of the Soul and the Bridegroom Christ, stanza 30
translator of text

Catherine Hart (soprano), Wells Cathedral Choir, Matthew Owens (conductor)
Recording details: February 2006
Wells Cathedral, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Julian Millard
Release date: November 2006
Total duration: 5 minutes 6 seconds

Cover artwork: Three Ladies Singing (detail) by Louis Welden Hawkins (1849-1910)
Private Collection / Bridgeman Art Library, London

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

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