ANTHONY BURGESS - Orchestral Music

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ANTHONY BURGESS - Orchestral Music - Brown University Orchestra - Paul Phillips (Conductor) - 747313347278 - Released: May 2016 - Naxos 8.573472

Mr W.S. - Ballet Suite for Orchestra (1979)
Marche pour une révolution 1789-1989 (1989)
Mr Burgess's Almanack (1987)

Anthony Burgess (1917-1993) once said: "I wish people would think of me as a musician who writes novels, instead of a novelist who writes music on the side." Quite a powerful statement when you consider that he wrote more than sixty books including A Clockwork Orange, one of the most influential novels of the 20th century. It created an awful lot of controversy in the 1960s by touching on a variety of topics including teenage angst, violence, language, government policies, the future of society, fashion, sex, technology, brainwashing, and most of all, the power of music. The novel was actually structured in sonata form. When director Stanley Kubrick released the cinematic version of the book in 1971, Anthony Burgess suddenly became the novelist of the day, and I'm pretty confident that the study of A Clockwork Orange surely remains, to this day, part of the school curriculum, or at least should be.

His lifelong interest in music explains the importance he placed on it in his writing, and certainly justifies why he would have made the aforementioned statement. His sound is unabashedly British, with a style that resembles a pastiche of Walton, Arnold and Holst, with a very light, tongue in cheek soupçon of Hoffnung. So British in fact that even the Marche pour une révolution which commemorates the bicentennial of the French Revolution, sounds in parts as if written by Elgar. Not to say that Burgess lacked originality because Mr Burgess's Almanack certainly takes off on a tangent all its own, with the composer stretching his harmonic layout. And two of the movements from Mr W.S. - Ballet Suite for Orchestra (W.S. stands for William Shakespeare by the way), the Carol and Stratford, April 1616 are strikingly evocative with their imaginative melodic structure and beauty.

These are world première recordings and will probably stand as the benchmark for any future accounts. The Brown University Orchestra play through with commited expression and clockwork (pun intended) precision. And, as a matter of fact, conductor Paul Phillips is the author of A Clockwork Counterpoint: The Music and Literature of Anthony Burgess, so who better than an expert on the subject to deliver a faithful and authoritative account. Thanks again to the people at Naxos for dusting off these neglected but nonetheless important scores for our listening pleasure.

Jean-Yves Duperron - July 2016

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