Charles Burney in England

ALISON CROOSE King's Lynn Festival: King's Lynn Town Hall


The role of a former Norfolk church organist in a key period in music history was brought to life by the ensemble Sonnerie and pianist David Owen Norris.

Charles Burney, organist at St Margaret's Church, Lynn, for nine years in the mid-1770s, is commemorated in the festival's Britain and Burney theme and there could be no finer tribute to his memory than this delightful entertainment. The significance was underlined by BBC Radio 3 recording the occasion for transmission next week.

There was so much of interest – the fascinating background to the music and the expertise of the musicians who are renowned in their field.

Owen Norris has an incredible pedigree and Monica Huggett's reputation as director of Sonnerie preceded her.

The audience was united in its enthusiasm for the performance which centred on a 1781 square piano – which Owen Norris described as “a coffee table with a lid that lifts up” – and which was so sensitive to atmospheric conditions that it had to be tuned after each movement.

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The programme included the world's first piano concerto by Philip Hayes, a piano trio by Burney and concluded with a concerto by James Hook which summed up the music of the era with its lively rhythms and beautiful harmonies.

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