BURGESS Complete Guitar Quartets

Record and Artist Details



Label: Naxos

Media Format: CD or Download

Media Runtime: 59



Catalogue Number: 8 574423

8 574423. BURGESS Complete Guitar Quartets


Composition Artist Credit
Guitar Quartet No. 1 Anthony Burgess, Composer
Mēla Guitar Quartet
(The) Planets, Movement: Mercury, the Winged Messenger Gustav Holst, Composer
Mēla Guitar Quartet
Guitar Quartet No. 2 Anthony Burgess, Composer
Mēla Guitar Quartet
3 Morceaux Irlandais Traditional, Composer
Mēla Guitar Quartet
Guitar Quartet No. 3 Anthony Burgess, Composer
Mēla Guitar Quartet
Oberon, Movement: Overture Carl Maria von Weber, Composer
Mēla Guitar Quartet

It’s probably fair to say that Anthony Burgess is still best known as the author of A Clockwork Orange. But that novel, and indeed Stanley Kubrick’s subsequent film adaptation, more than hints at Burgess’s obsession with music. Burgess (1917 93) in fact possessed a multifaceted genius, the chief fruits of which were not just a prodigious literary output but over 200 musical arrangements and compositions in almost every genre. Including, perhaps surprisingly, music for guitar quartet.

This new release from the UK-based Mēla Guitar Quartet comprises Burgess’s complete music for four guitars. As Paul Phillips succinctly relates in his booklet note, Burgess heard the guitar played regularly when he was a sergeant stationed in Gibraltar during the Second World War and later tried but failed to learn to play it. Much later again, he discovered the guitar teacher he had engaged for his wife was a member of the Aïghetta Guitar Quartet. And so, from 1986 and over the next three years, he wrote a series of original works and transcriptions for them.

These works exhibit the full range of Burgess’s eclectic style, which embraces everything from diatonicism and modal music to polytonalism and atonalism. Especially in the three quartets, though, there is an indebtedness to the music of the past, including the use of sonata form, fugal textures, a passacaglia and a chorale. Of the transcriptions, ‘Mercury’ from Holst’s The Planets is especially successful.

Performances throughout evince a real affection and enthusiasm for this distinctive, quirky music, the Mēla Guitar Quartet’s collective technical brilliance and preternatural ensemble making for a thoroughly enjoyable listening experience.

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