The guitar duo of Raymond Burley and John Feeley gives a seemingly effortless lyrical performance, mellow and glossy, with sprightly as well as velvety interpretations; a superlative performance of these splendid duets. They are an unfailingly crisp and refined ensemble, with recording quality that reveals every strand in the score with richness and clarity.
This bountiful array of compelling romantic guitar music should be a part of everyone’s collection.
Johann Kaspar Mertz (1806-1856)
1. Am Grabe der Geliebten 4:59
2. Mazurka 4:05
3. Unrühe 2:54
Fernando Sor (1778-1839)
Fantaisie, Op 54 bis
4. Introduction 1:22
5. Theme :53
6. Variation 1 1:48
7. Variation 2 1:35
8. Allegro dans le genre Espagñol 5:16
9. Vespergang 3:33
10. Trauermarsch 4:26
L’Encouragement (Fantaisie), Op 34
11. Cantabile (Introduction) 5:23
12. Theme :52
13. Variation 1 :57
14. Variation 2 1:40
15. Variation 3 1:39
16. Valse 3:51
17. Ich Denke Dein 5:13
18. Barcarole 4:07
Total time: 54:41
Biography - Raymond Burley
Raymond Burley is one of Britain’s most experienced guitarists having performed solo concerts, concertos, on film scores, radio, and television and in virtually every possible guitar ensemble combination.
As a soloist he has toured extensively throughout the UK, Europe, the USA, South America, Canada and the Far East, and has appeared many times at London’s Wigmore Hall, the South Bank Centre’s Purcell Room, and Birmingham’s Symphony Hall. Raymond has been featured on BBC Radio, and worked with many of England’s foremost orchestras including the BBC Symphony, the Philharmonia, the English Chamber Orchestra and the Royal Philharmonic.
Burley has premièred many new works by composers that include Stephen Dodgson, Bernard Stevens, Reginald Smith Brindle, John Duarte, Raymond Head, Edmundo Vasquez, Richard Stoker, James Patten, Gilbert Biberian, Dudley Moore, Bryan Kelly, Elis Pehkonen, Christopher Wright, Timothy Bowers and John Scott.
For several years he performed and broadcast with harpsichordist Stephen Bell; many established composers were enthusiastic about the combination and wrote works for the duo, helping to create a more substantial repertory. He now performs with harpsichordist Gilbert Rowland.
Between 1988-95 Burley worked in a duo with American guitarist Alice Artzt and – based in New York City – he was also a member of the Alice Artzt Trio. He has also performed and recorded with mezzo-soprano Jacqueline Fox, worked in guitar duos with John Mills, Gilbert Biberian, Gregg Nestor and John Feeley and the jazz guitarist John Etheridge; he is currently a member of the Rodrigo Guitar Trio. Shortly after its release, the trio’s second CD, Danzas Fantasticas, was Henry Kelly’s ‘CD of the week’ on Classic FM. This CD was released under the trio’s former name, The New Pro Arte Guitar Trio.
Burley has performed with violinist Michael Bochmann, the Bochmann String Quartet, flautist Jennifer Stinton, percussionist Keith Fairbairn and given mixed programmes of poetry and music with the late Dame Peggy Ashcroft.
The most recent guitar duo partnership is with Gordon Giltrap in the duo Double Vision. Recently he began performing with percussionist Keith Fairbairn as the Isis Duo.
In great demand as a teacher, he has given master-classes and directed guitar workshops, festivals and summer schools throughout the UK and in Dublin, Vancouver, Ottawa, Toronto, Calgary, Seattle, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Washington DC, New York, Princeton, Bremen, Bonn and Lima.
Burley has many guitar arrangements to his credit; the publishers include Schott, MSM, Southern Guitar Productions, RGT Publications, Lathkill and Corda (UK), Arpeggione (Switzerland), Durand (France) and AIG (USA). He has also edited a large number of music albums for Schott.
In addition to being a regular contributor to the bi monthly magazine, Acoustic, Burley also supports a number of charities including Amnesty International and the Duchess of Kent’s musical charity Future Talent.
Biography - John Feeley
Described by the Washington Post as “Ireland’s leading classical guitarist” and by Michael Dervan in the Irish Times as “a trailblazer...when it comes to the guitar and guitar-playing in Ireland”, John Feeley studied at Trinity College, University of Dublin, Queens College of the City University, New York, and The National University of Ireland, Maynooth, where he graduated with a PhD in music. He has taught at the American Institute of Guitar, Memphis State University and currently holds the post of Professor in Guitar at the Conservatory of Music, Dublin Institute of Technology.
In addition to his solo and chamber music concerts, Feeley has performed widely with orchestra -- with The American Symphony at Carnegie Hall, the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, the Ulster Orchestra, and the Irish Chamber Orchestra, among others. He has won a number of prizes in international competitions, including the Special Award for interpretation in the 1984 Mauro Giuliani competition, Italy.
Highly regarded for his performance of new works by Irish composers, he has had many works written for him, which include Guitar Concertos by Jerome de Bromhead, Eric Sweeney and Brent Parker; a Quintet for Guitar and String Quartet by Andrew Shiels and Brent Parker; Four Pieces by Jane O’Leary; a solo Guitar Sonata and Flute and Guitar duo, In Winter Light, by John Buckley; a number of works by David Fennessy, John McLachlan and Ciaran Farrell. The American composer, Robert Newell, has also written an extended solo guitar work for him.
Feeley is a regular performer at many international guitar festivals, including the Bath International Guitar Festival, the Dundee International Guitar Festival, the Dublin International Guitar Festival, the Wirral International Guitar Festival and the Walton’s Guitar Festival of Ireland. He has made recordings with K-Tel, Gael-Linn Records, CBA Classics, Ossiain Records, Castle Communications, a highly acclaimed CD of contemporary Irish music with Blackbox Music, England and has recently released a CD of the music of Irish composer John Buckley with the German company, Celestial Harmonies. He has also recorded with the Chieftains and famous Spanish Soprano Montserrat Caballé.
Well known for his own delightful guitar arrangements of Irish music which appear on several of his many recordings, Feeley’s concerts have taken him around the world and include appearances at the Sydney Opera House, the Old Opera House, Frankfurt, the L’Arena in Verona, and New York’s Carnegie Hall.
Reviews of Raymond Burley:
“The agenda for the evening contained much quality merchandise. The brightest gem of all was a finely crafted account of Smith Brindle’s classy El Polifemo de Oro. The interpretations were very much of our own time: a meticulously ornamented Tombeau sur la Mort de M.Comte de Logy leading to a robust Falla Homenaje. Credit must be given for the fact that Burley presents a precise realisation of the subliminal quote from Soirée dans Grenade, a significant detail which remarkably few guitarists nail down with total accuracy. This, together with some highly convincing material from his new CD of Giltrap reworkings, made for an evening that found Raymond Burley on excellent form.”
Paul Fowles, Classical Guitar magazine (UK)
“Raymond Burley is an example of the calibre of artiste we are lucky to hear in Guernsey. He began and concluded with music by his favourite composer, Bach, and one could certainly have listened to him doing so for ages. His playing was beautifully clean, without the clicks and whistles one can hear too prominently on some guitar recordings. When he played Sor (op.7) he elicited different sounds, from mellow through feisty to cheeky but the ends of the earlier movements were magically soft. Raymond Burley is a musician whose playing is definitely worth sampling.”
Deborah Soper, Guernsey Press (UK)
“It was my first opportunity to see the duo and my expectations were particularly high. Double Vision is a superb concept for an evening’s entertainment. How to sum up the evening? That’s difficult to do in the space that a review allows. There is no doubt there is something special about the interaction between two musicians who are masters of their instruments. It is clear that there is a musical chemistry existing between Burley and Giltrap that is rarely seen and heard. One can only hope that their busy schedules allow them to spend more time performing together.”
Trevor Raggatt, Total Guitar magazine (UK)
“Every piece in Ray’s evening concert illustrated something that he had talked about in the preceding masterclass. The tonal changes mentioned in the class were demonstrated remarkably well. In the pieces by Bach, Sanz and Weiss he gave us a live masterclass on decoration: brilliant. Ray followed with the Four Epitafios by Theodorakis, the lesson here: tone control. The use of voicing in Barrios’ Julia Florida is critical. I wish I had his control of the separation! He rounded off the evening with Villa-Lobos. ‘One day’, I tell myself, ‘I’ll play the Choros like that’.”
Graham Cooper, Berkshire Guitar Society (UK)
“Happily the number of guitarists who not only have technical mastery but can also present programmes with creative originality is increasing, Raymond Burley is certainly in this category. Mr. Burley has learnt well and although Guernsey guitarists had the opportunity to observe his technique closely it was not possible to discern precisely how he managed to draw the most exquisite sounds from his instrument.”
Geoffrey George, Classical Guitar magazine (UK)
“Raymond Burley provided a program that was filled with mastery and was played with the skill a great performer takes to bring the true essence of the pieces to the audience. Mr Burley’s ability to garner a wide variety of tone color from the guitar was truly impressive.”
Pierre Gyllsdorf, Naples Daily News (USA)
“The music was presented with charm and a marvellous sense of tone color. The playing was beautifully modulated, mindful of the musical structure and filled with tonal variety that was always at the service of the music.”
Jacob Siskind, Ottawa Citizen (Canada)
“Raymond Burley captures the character of the music, as he manages everything else, with an undemonstrative but totally satisfactory assurance; you feel you are in safe hands, that he is never going to let you down by playing something out of period. I have a feeling that this kind of ability is underrated in our concert halls. Burley’s musicianship is of a very high order and it makes the recording a continual joy to listen to.”
Colin Cooper, Classical Guitar magazine (UK)
“If one had to select a single Sor recording to augment a collection this disc would make an excellent candidate. Burley’s playing is tasteful and refined and he is in full command of his material. I can’t recall having heard the great op.7 Fantaisie played better.”
Peter Danner, Soundboard magazine (USA)
“I’m always bowled over by Raymond Burley’s tone quality, which shone through his entire recital. The performance of Weiss’ Tombeau sur la mort de Mur. Comte d’Logy was superb.”
Jenny Campbell, Classical Guitar magazine (UK)
“‘Guitartist’ was the word on the back of the programme for Raymond Burley’s recital at St. James’ Arts Centre; misprint it may have been but it was an inspired one. The word should be kept in the language to describe musicians like Mr. Burley who have brought the technique of playing a difficult instrument to a very high degree of artistry.”
Christine le Poidevin, Guernsey Herald (Channel Islands)
“Raymond Burley was a great addition to the Distinguished Artists Concert Series. It was a wonderful evening that was enjoyed by all. There was some very competent playing and great musicality.”
Scott Christiansen, Sedona Red Rock News (USA)
“One is free to appreciate Raymond Burley’s genuine flair for the 20th century idiom; he was born to play this music. He’s totally at home with it, from the early Pujol Guajira (with the pizzicato stridente rendered correctly, for a change) to Duarte’s crowd-pleasing Birds and six fresh, un-hackneyed Preludes by Gilbert Biberian.”
George Warren, Soundboard magazine (USA)
Reviews of John Feeley:
“A devoted audience rose to its collective feet at both intermission and concert’s end.”
Washington Post, USA
“a bolder more imaginative interpreter … especially appealing”
Joseph Horowitz, The New York Times
“Great intensity and energy and attention to musical detail seldom achieved”
Guitar Review, New York
“…mesmeric …virtuosity in the service of poetry … Feeley’s commanding technique [is] placed at the service of talented young composers.”
BBC, The complete guide to Classical music
“… remarkable virtuosity...exquisite playing.”
The Wire (adventures in modern music), London
“…his formidable technique and sheer musicality can take your breath away.”
“…outstanding Irish guitarist John Feeley delivered the beauty of this Rodrigo [Fantasia para un Gentilhombre] …with the quietness and gentleness it demands…
“However, it was the Concerto in A by the late-18th-century Italian composer Mauro Giuliani that ignited the audience’s imagination. Feeley captured the sense of excitement of what, at times, seemed like a modern work, while never losing the historic feel of the piece.
“Overall, a compellingly beautiful concert.”
Dick O’Riordan, Sunday Business Post, Ireland, July 13, 2008
“John Feeley and Berta Rojas took two concertos each and delivered wonderful performances that were greeted with nothing short of an ecstatic response; I was rather moved myself.’
Classical Guitar, England, 2009
“Feeley succeeded in capturing Rodrigo’s retrospective, discreetly nostalgic grace [in Fantasia para un Gentilhombre]. Flying passagework in true classical style afforded a view of Feeley’s deceptively easy facility [in Concerto in A by Mauro Giuliani].”
Michael Dungan, Irish Times
“Feeley played Giuliani’s Concerto op 30. and the early 19th century came to life with a rousing performance from Feeley.”
Classical Guitar Magazine, England
“John Feeley is Ireland’s leading exponent of the classical guitar …[Bach’s “Cello Suite was] played beautifully by Feeley with his trademark inward concentration. The slow Chaconne - extracted from the Partita No 2 in D minor - was on this occasion even more satisfying, its gradual and intense build-up setting it apart from everything else in the programme.”
The Irish Times
“John Feeley and William Dowdall [are] consummate artists who fully express the depth and breadth of Buckley’s music …beautiful playing.”
Pan, The British Flute Society, March 2005, Leslie Sheills
“Buckley’s two guitar sonatas are played winningly by John Feeley... Played splendidly.”
The Sunday Tribune, October 31, 2004, Ian Fox
“John Feeley… whose expert arrangements of the folk music of his native Eire are well documented.... The performance is classic Feeley, with every phrase shaped with the tender loving care of a true craftsman.”
Paul Fowles, Classical Guitar (Vol. 12, No. 10), England, June 1994
“I much enjoyed John Feeley¹s crisp and always beguiling guitar work. Here is a player of tunes, in the same Celtic sense that David Russell is, a guitarist who can simply sit down and play and know that people will listen. If you are a good musician, as Feeley is, then the same qualities can inform and illuminate all kinds of music. This is not extrovert virtuosity but something that penetrates deeper ... a guitarist whom I personally would like to hear more of.”
Classical Guitar, England, July 1989 (Colin Cooper)
“Feeley fails to put a finger wrong...the interpretations stand up to the best of the competition.”
Classical Guitar, England
John Feeley, RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra/Yaniv Dinur, National Concert Hall, Dublin, Friday 13 July, 2007
“In Rodrigo’s unassuming but much loved Concierto de Aranjuez, solo guitarist John Feeley ranged across a wealth of tone colours from the chaste and lute-like to the pungent and prickly. So silent were his position changes, so crisply regular his strummings, that there was little cause to regret the hefty but clear amplification.
“Of the many good reasons for attending the concert, then, it was Feeley’s masterly playing that proved best of all.”
Andrew Johnstone, The Irish Times, Tuesday, July 17, 2007
“The festival’s ‘main event’, was the evening’s concert at the National Concert Hall with Berta Rojas and John Feeley sharing the platform with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra conducted by Robert Houlihan. The programme, a Herculean effort, was four guitar concertos played back to back. This event had a full house at the Concert Hall, and, as such, had a tremendous atmosphere. John Feeley opened with Rodrigo’s Fantasia para un Gentilhombre. From the smoothness of the strings one could tell our ears were in good hands. Robert Houlihan guided his band around John Feeley’s gently amplified performance on a exquisite sounding guitar made by Michael O’Leary.
“After the interval Feeley played Giuliani’s Concerto op 30. and the early 19th century came to life with a rousing performance from the string players and of course Feeley himself.”
Classical Guitar Magazine, December 2008