Reviews

GMCD 7150 – A Quiet Conscience – Songs from the 17th Century

Connor Burrowes – Treble, John Scott – Organ, David Miller – Lute/Therbo

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Ex-St. Paul’s Cathedral chorister Connor Burrowes has blossomed into a treble soloist of outstanding talent. His voice is warm and robuts – indeed, he’s more like a very high countertenor much of the time. His programme of sacred lute and baroque songs displays elegant phrase-shaping and in instinct for ornamentation. Dynamic contrast is sometimes rather restricted, but otherwise performances are beyond reproach. John Scott (chamber organ) and David Miller (lute) provide accompaniments plus two solos apiece. A lovely record!

Readers Letter Classic CD May 1999

……And yonger talent

In these days of mass-produced recorded music the appearance of a fine performance on CD could hardly be the cause of my writing to a music magazine. However, I feel I must make an exception in the case of Guild’s recent release of seventeenth Ccentury songs entitled “A Quiet Conscience” sung by ex St. Paul’s Cathedral Head Chorister Conor Burrowes.
Even since Ernest Lough’s appearance on record in 1927, the particular magic of the treble voice has from time to time impinged on the wider public consciousness. There are those who would still rate Lough the finest of all whilst others point to the more overtly dramatic chest-voiced style of the Vienna and T√∂lzer Boxs’ Choirs. I am equally at home with both styles and would recon to have heard, via my extensive record collection just about every treble soloist to have made a major contrubition to recording since about 1970.
Quite simply, Burrowe’s performences of Clarke, Church and Purcel are the finest singing I have ever heard from a boy. No admirer of the treble voice should allow this gem of a recording to escape them – it deserves the widest exposure.
I should perhaps make it clear that I am no relation of any of the performers nor do I have any connection with the record company and write merely to share with others what I believe to be a most wonderful musical discovery.
Robin Hutwell, Hampshire


The Boy Choir Symposium @ treble.org

The following review was submitted by Martin Hough (mothman@vossnet.co.uk).

These songs are all from 17th century English composers, and Christian devotional in character. The copious notes helpfully provide all the words. Comments have been made that Connor’s CD of Consort Songs had a melancholy air. These are the same, with death, sin and pleas for forgiveness being recurrent themes- somewhat incongruous unless young Connor has had a more colourful life than most fourteen year olds. But he handles it with a haunting expressiveness far beyond his years. Some tracks are already familiar- Never weather-beaten sail, Clarke’s Evening Hymn and Humfrey’s Hymn to God the Father- but the rest are just as beautiful, and the setting for treble soloist makes them ravishing. Solo passages from lute and organ make appropriate breaks from time to time between the songs, without spoiling the cohesion of the recital, which makes a very satisfying whole. Connor’s voice has matured, and is now superb. It has a luminous quality- a sustained light, not a flashy one. He sings a with a strong, plain tone, on the longest notes filling out into a beautifully even and controlled vibrato. In these songs his voice is very exposed, and he has to tackle some quite challenging passages, but his register, technical skill and expressiveness are well equal to the test. He matches the sombre words with deep feeling.

The lute and organ accompanists both unobtrusively support the treble solo extrememly well. They have their chance to shine on the solo passages- but are careful not to disrupt the overall lyrical melancholy of the recital. The church chosen for the performance does seem to have a marked echo. Anything stronger might have caused problems, but these are not intimate pieces, and the slight feeling of emptiness that it engenders probably contributes to the emotional effect of the CD.

The sound quality is very effective. The balance between soloist and accompanist is right, and the recording has great presence. Those who dismiss the English sound should hear this profoundly moving performance.

Performance

Sound