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CHAN 10592
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CHAN 10592

Burgon: Merciless Beauty / Concertos

The Classical Shop
release date: April 2010

Recorded in 24 Bit / 96Khz
album available as a Studio Master
Originally recorded in 2009


City of London Sinfonia

Rumon Gamba

Josephine Knight

cello ‡

Sarah Connolly

mezzo-soprano †

Philip Dukes

viola *


Blackheath Halls, London


Brian Pidgeon


Ralph Couzens

Jonathan Cooper


Record Label


Orchestral & Concertos

Total Time - 62:32
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*if you purchase a higher level format, we include the lower formats free of charge
Please Note: On Mp3 format an unavoidable click may be heard on segue track breaks, to avoid this issue please select lossless or better
Select Complete Single Disc for


  For Philip Dukes  

Viola Concerto 'Ghosts of the Dance' (2008) *

1 First Dance. Modertao - Presto - Meno mosso - 5:18
2 Second Dance. Lento, quasi tango 8:03
3 Third Dance. Vivo - Più mosso - Tempo I - Più mosso - Tempo I - Più mosso - Moderato - Meno mosso 7:11

Merciless Beauty (1996-97) †

  for counter-tenor (or mezzo-soprano) and small orchestra  
  For James Bowman  
4 1 Western Wind. Allegro moderato 1:29
5 2 Letter to Anna, pregnat. Lento 4:25
6 3 The Sick Rose. Allegro moderato 1:56
7 4 Tune for an Ice Cream Van. Allegro 2:53
8 5 Merciless Beauty.Lento 3:09
9 6 Iron Cith Love Song. Moderato 2:24
10 7 Campionesque for Anna. Lento 3:46

Cello Concertoo (2007) ‡

11 1 Con moto - Più mosso - Più mosso - Meno mosso - 5:29
12 2 Lento e calmo - Più mosso - A tempo I - Meno mosso 7:30
13 3 Vivo - Meno mosso - Lento - Meno mosso - Più mosso - Meno mosso 8:59
Geoffrey Burgon: Viola Concerto; Cello Concerto; Merciless Beauty, City of London Sinfonia, Rumon Gamba

This release offers the premiere recording of Geoffrey Burgon’s viola and cello concertos, alongside the song cycle Merciless Beauty.

For a generation and more of television watchers and filmgoers with even a passing interest in music, the name of the British composer Geoffrey Burgon is associated with a string of successful soundtrack scores: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, The Chronicles of Narnia, and many others. His masterful score for Brideshead Revisited, described as ‘the greatest score ever written for television’, earned Burgon an Ivor Novello Award. However, ‘concert music’ has always been the main thrust of his work, which, whilst being sophisticated in structure, speaks powerfully and directly to audiences and musicians alike. His love of the voice has led Burgon to write probably more song cycles than any other living composer and these successes have tended to overshadow his smaller output of purely orchestral music. This new album helps to rectify that imbalance.

Merciless Beauty, originally for counter-tenor, is here, at the invitation of the composer, sung by the mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly. The Viola Concerto Ghosts of the Dance was commissioned by our present soloist, Philip Dukes. Burgon writes: ‘Whilst writing it I felt the music being pulled in the direction of thirties American dance music. Then I got a strong image of a dance hall in a small American town, where a dance endurance competition was taking place. These were a feature of the depression era in the US.’ The album is completed by the Cello Concerto, inspired by Alexander Kok, the last surviving founder member of the Philharmonia Orchestra, and completed with advice concerning the solo part from Josephine Knight who here takes the solo part.

“…The three substantial recent works featured on this disc (including premiere recordings of the concerti) now form a poignant introduction to those who only know the polished film and TV work of this distinguished concert composer.”

Tim Mottershead

Tempo Magazine - January 2011

“Performances by all three soloists and the City of London Sinfonia are excellent , as are Chando’s sonics.


American Record Guide - September - October 2010

                        Performance ****      Recording ****

Martin Cotton

BBC Music Magazine - September 2010

“…The City of London Sinfonia under Rumon Gamba seems to relish this music, as it should. Burgeon is a master story-teller who doesn’t need the support of celluloid to keep an audience on the edge of its seat.”

Robert Levett

International Record Review - July/August 2010

“A ghostly viola concerto forms an effective, expressive centrepiece.” “…A film sensibility may lie at the core of Burgon’s musical personality but there is much here in terms of expressive weight and musical content to ensure that his musical stands firm without the need for visual support.”

Pwyll ap Sion

Gramophone - July 2010

“Two terrific concertos and a song cycle for the ages in this remarkable offering.”
“Sarah Connolly … sings brilliantly.” “Phillip Dukes and Josephine Knight are respectively resplendent in their solo efforts, while Gamba’s Sinfonia plays to utter delight. Sound couldn’t be bettered …” “Don’t miss this one.” *****

Steven Ritter

Audiophile Audition - 20 May 2010

“Geoffrey Burgeon’s slinky, jazz-inflected viola concerto  Ghosts of the Dance conveys colour, character and narrative in economical writing.
In the Cello Concerto it is the percussion that catches the ear, teasing and vexing the spiralling phrases of the soloist. Supported by Rumon Gamba and the City of London Sinfonia, Philip Dukes and Josephine Knight favour an almost vocal style of harrowed lyricism, while Sarah Connolly claims the 1997 song cycle written for James Bowman as her own. Merciless beauty, indeed.”

Anna Picard

The Independent - 9 May 2010

N Hiroyuk

J Haga