Burgess: Mr W.S. – Ballet Suite for Orchestra; Marche pour une révolution 1789-1989; Mr Burgess's Almanack

Reviewed on Thu 02 Jun, 2016

Mr W.S. is William Shakespeare (topical), and this ballet suite (1979) is of decent Elizabethan (the First) pastiche, colourfully orchestrated, the music stirring and consoling.

What to make of author Anthony Burgess’s music – he who wrote A Clockwork Orange, which Kubrick filmed? Well, it’s rather good: horses will not be frightened! Burgess (1917-93) knew what he was doing with manuscript paper. Mr W.S. is William Shakespeare (topical), and this ballet suite (1979) is of decent Elizabethan (the First) pastiche, colourfully orchestrated, the music stirring and consoling. If you like Moeran’s Serenade in G, say, you’ll like Mr W.S.’s nine short movements. Connections to history continue with the quirky Marche pour une révolution 1789-1989, the rebellion being French, the march rather jauntier than perhaps expected and with a noble middle section in the Walton big-tune mould (if without similar distinction). Mr Burgess’s Almanack (1987) is made up of fourteen vignettes, from ‘Exordium’ to ‘Postlude’, and the most advanced music here, intriguing in ideas and colouring, spicy rather than confrontational. These first recordings are well worth a punt.
–Colin Anderson