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Anthony Burgess: The Man And His Music

Turner / Davies
Release Date: 09/24/2013 
Label:  Metier   Catalog #: 77202   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Anthony BurgessNicholas MarshallAlan GibbsGordon Crosse,   ... 
Performer:  John TurnerHarvey Davies
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 2 Hours 3 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



ANTHONY BURGESS: The Man and his Music John Turner (rec); Harvey Davies (pn) METIER 772202 (2 CDs: 123:28)


BURGESS Recorder Sonatina. Tre Pizzetti. Recorder Sonata No. 1 in C. Siciliano MARSHALL Recorder Sonata A. GIBBS Blithe Spirit. CROSSE Read more class="ARIAL12bi">The Thing with Feathers. JOSEPHS Sonatine , op. 4. FERGUSON The Untamed has a Language but no Words. DUBERY Recorder Sonata. RAWSTHORNE (arr. Ellis) Hamlet : Interludes. HEATON SMITH Sonatina alla Fantasia, op. 23. WRIGHT Recorder Sonata. MURRILL Sarabande. POPE Recorder Sonatina. BLACKFORD Sonata alla Danza. WRIGHT Recorder Sonata. SEIBER Pastorale. J. SULLIVAN Joie de vivre. DUBERY Recorder Sonata


“Music by Anthony Burgess and 15 other composers” announces the cover. It is an intriguing concept: a way in, to re-examine an instrument that plagued many of our infant years: the recorder. It can be so painful, yet played well it can clearly (as here) be, well, less painful. Sometimes downright funny, it can also move us with unexpected pathos. There are no great revelations here; rather, many things that pique the curiosity. Perhaps the idea of hearing music by writer Anthony Burgess (who wrote, most famously, A Clockwork Orange ) is enough to draw one in.


Written for the composer’s son Andrew, Burgess’s Recorder Sonatina of around 1990 is a work of more depth than the title might imply. Judicious balancing on the side of the recording team means the recorder line comes through perfectly at all times. Burgess apparently thought of his music as post-tonal, but that might imply an astringency that is not present. The Sonatina seems clearly rooted in the English Pastoralists. More Burgess closes the first disc: the delightful Tre Pizzetti (the counterpoint of the final one is most appealing). Right at the end of the second disc we hear the Sonata No. 1 in C, with the Siciliano as an “encore.” The first movement of the Sonata almost feels fenced in by its 3:40 duration as the ideas seem to have so much unrealized scope. The Siciliano, a mellow farewell to the listener here, is decidedly crepuscular in nature.


Nicolas Marshall’s Sonata (2000) was premiered by the present recorder player in Cambridge. The playful first movement is a fine foil for the central elegy (remarkably expressive music) before the Finale pipes its way in, jubilantly. The performance standard here is remarkably high, the whole final movement light as a feather.


Talking of feathers, there follows Blithe Spirit , one of two “bird pieces” by Alan Gibbs (the title refers to Shelley’s skylark). There is plenty of wit in evidence here, and both players seem to delight in it. More birds: Gordon Crosse’s recent (2010) The Thing with feathers is virtuosic, as well as great fun (the title here refers to Emily Dickinson’s Hope is the Thing with Feathers ). The warmth of Wilfred Joseph’s Sonatine is welcome thereafter, as is the perhaps surprising depth of its rather ominous central Elegy.


Barry Ferguson’s piece uses both sopranino and bass recorders to good effect. The bass recorder is surely rarely heard, but it has a haunting quality that is most powerful. South African composer David Dubery’s 2011 Sonata is short but haunting, with only its tinkling Finale attempting to move out of the shadows.


The idea of Rawsthorne’s Hamlet (composed for the 1961 Stratford upon Avon production) for recorder and piano sounds unlikely but actually works perfectly, evoking the spirit of Shakespeare’s time while remaining true also to the composer’s harmonic language. There is a restrained nobility here that is most appealing. The piano playing here, too, is most tasteful.


The name Roy Heaton Smith is new to me. Manchester-born in 1928, much of his output apparently remains unpublished—a shame, if this pleasant little piece is anything to go by. Turner and Davies put in a beautifully characterful reading. Herbert Murrill’s Sarabande (composed around 1950) is an oasis of calm, with the recorder here tracing a line of unexpectedly ravishing legato. Murrill was a student at the Royal Academy in London of York Bowen and Alan Bush. Peter Pope, a student of John Ireland at the Royal College, provides a pleasant if somewhat anonymous Sonatina (this despite the rhythmic play of the 7/4 first movement). The playful Finale is by far the finest movement. Dick Blackford’s Sonata alla Danza takes three dance forms as the bases for its three movements: Bourrée, Sarabande, and Jig. It is a lovely idea, and the realization is as delightful as the concept.


Christopher Wright studied with Richard Arnell at the Colchester Institute. Turner actually gave the first performance of this piece (in Suffolk). The piece traverses a surprising amount of emotions (the central Cantilena is arguably the most poignant music on this entire recital). The stuttering Finale is particularly interesting in its unpredictability.


Hungarian composer Mátyás Seiber is much better-known (Dennis Brain helped, of course, by championing his Notturno ). His 1941 Pastorale is harmonically characteristic of the composer (it was originally for recorder and string trio) and beautifully poignant. It’s good to have John Sullivan’s Joie de vivre as a counterbalance (it exists in another version for the intriguing combination of recorder, cello, and harpsichord).


A stimulating release.


FANFARE: Colin Clarke
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Works on This Recording

1. Sonatina for recorder & piano by Anthony Burgess
Performer:  John Turner (Recorder), Harvey Davies (Piano)
Period: Modern 
Venue:  International Anthony Burgess Centre, Ma 
Length: 9 Minutes 8 Secs. 
2. Sonata for recorder & piano by Nicholas Marshall
Performer:  John Turner (Recorder), Harvey Davies (Piano)
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 2005 
Venue:  International Anthony Burgess Centre, Ma 
Length: 13 Minutes 47 Secs. 
3. Blithe Spirit, for recorder & piano by Alan Gibbs
Performer:  Harvey Davies (Piano), John Turner (Recorder)
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 2000 
Venue:  International Anthony Burgess Centre, Ma 
Length: 4 Minutes 14 Secs. 
4. The Thing with Feathers, for recorder & piano by Gordon Crosse
Performer:  Harvey Davies (Piano), John Turner (Recorder)
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 2010 
Venue:  International Anthony Burgess Centre, Ma 
Length: 2 Minutes 55 Secs. 
5. Sonatine for recorder & piano, Op. 4 by Wilfred Josephs
Performer:  Harvey Davies (Piano), John Turner (Recorder)
Period: Modern 
Written: 1953 
Venue:  International Anthony Burgess Centre, Ma 
Length: 4 Minutes 8 Secs. 
6. The Untamed Has a Language But No Words, for recorder & piano by Barry Ferguson
Performer:  Harvey Davies (Piano), John Turner (Recorder)
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 2012 
Venue:  International Anthony Burgess Centre, Ma 
Length: 6 Minutes 2 Secs. 
7. Sonata for recorder & piano by David Dubery
Performer:  Harvey Davies (Piano), John Turner (Recorder)
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 2011 
Venue:  International Anthony Burgess Centre, Ma 
Length: 8 Minutes 5 Secs. 
8. Hamlet: Interludes by Alan Rawsthorne
Performer:  Harvey Davies (Piano), John Turner (Recorder)
Period: Modern 
Written: 1961 
Venue:  International Anthony Burgess Centre, Ma 
Length: 9 Minutes 13 Secs. 
9. Pezzetti (3) for recorder & piano by Anthony Burgess
Performer:  Harvey Davies (Piano), John Turner (Recorder)
Period: Modern 
Venue:  International Anthony Burgess Centre, Ma 
Length: 3 Minutes 20 Secs. 
10. Sarabande for recorder & piano by Herbert Murrill
Performer:  Harvey Davies (Piano), John Turner (Recorder)
Period: Contemporary 
Venue:  International Anthony Burgess Centre, Ma 
Length: 3 Minutes 43 Secs. 
11. Sonatina for recorder & piano by Peter Pope
Performer:  Harvey Davies (Piano), John Turner (Recorder)
Period: Modern 
Written: 1939-1948 
Venue:  International Anthony Burgess Centre, Ma 
Length: 6 Minutes 30 Secs. 
12. Sonata for recorder & piano by Christopher Wright
Performer:  Harvey Davies (Piano), John Turner (Recorder)
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 2007 
Venue:  International Anthony Burgess Centre, Ma 
Length: 13 Minutes 47 Secs. 
13. Pastorale, for recorder, violin, viola & cello by Mátyás Seiber
Performer:  Harvey Davies (Piano), John Turner (Recorder)
Period: Modern 
Written: 1941 
Venue:  International Anthony Burgess Centre, Ma 
Length: 3 Minutes 34 Secs. 
14. Joie de vivre, for recorder & piano by John Sullivan
Performer:  Harvey Davies (Piano), John Turner (Recorder)
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 2009 
Venue:  International Anthony Burgess Centre, Ma 
Length: 3 Minutes 18 Secs. 
15. Sonata for recorder & piano No. 1 in C major by Anthony Burgess
Performer:  Harvey Davies (Piano), John Turner (Recorder)
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 1990 
Venue:  International Anthony Burgess Centre, Ma 
Length: 8 Minutes 36 Secs. 
16. Sonatina alla fantasia, for recorder & piano, Op. 23 by Roy Heaton Smith
Performer:  John Turner (Recorder), Harvey Davies (Piano)
Period: Modern 
Written: 1950-1951 
Venue:  International Anthony Burgess Centre, Ma 
Length: 7 Minutes 58 Secs. 
17. Sonata alla danza, for recorder & piano by Dick Blackford
Performer:  John Turner (Recorder), Harvey Davies (Piano)
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 2011-2012 
Venue:  International Anthony Burgess Centre, Ma 
Length: 11 Minutes 56 Secs. 
18. Siciliano, for recorder & piano by Anthony Burgess
Performer:  John Turner (Recorder), Harvey Davies (Piano)
Period: Modern 
Venue:  International Anthony Burgess Centre, Ma 
Length: 2 Minutes 12 Secs. 

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