Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Finzi, Hill, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra|
Finzi: Dies Natalis; Farewell To Arms; Two Sonnets
Genres: Pop, Classical
Listen to Samples
Beautiful music, lovingly played & sung !
Todd Nolan | Seattle, WA USA | 05/28/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Finzi admirers probably have all of the selections on this wonderful Naxos disc, because once you hear any of his music, you have to pursue his other works (he only has 40 opus numbers). But for those who haven't had the pleasure yet, I urge you to give this disc a try. Although all the pieces were composed in an era when Berg, Webern, Stravinsky, Schoenberg & Hindemith were getting the lion's share of performances and critic's notice, they all have Finzi's gift for an elegaic, lyric sweetness.
(Two or three of his 40 published works have the title Elegy, but everything that he wrote, instrumental or vocal, could be described as an elegy in one way or another, such was the man's sensitivity to life's brevity. Loss of both parent's, and others, at a young age made its mark on all of his endeavors, not just his music).
Some say the cantata for high voice (soprano or tenor) & strings is, along with the Clarinet Concerto, Finzi's masterpiece. Titled "Dies Natalis" (Day of Birth) and set to selections of 17th century poet Thomas Traherne's "Centuries of Meditation", the work is from the viewpoint of a newborn child bewildered and enchanted at the beautiful but strange world. Ralph Vaughan Williams, Arthur Bliss, Edmund Rubbra, and Herbert Howells all thought that Finzi matched verse/text with music better than any other composer of their time. I have recordings with both soprano (Rebecca Evans) and tenor (Phillip Langridge), and either one works well.
Its a tenor, James Gilchrist, that sings it on this release.
The Prelude for strings is a short gem that could be an actual prelude for many of Finzi's compositions. Its quintessential Finzi, having that elegaic quality I mentioned.
Fall of the Leaf and Nocturne (New Year's Music) are like so much of what Finzi wrote, contemplative and mournful, expressing the passing of time. No "Happy New Year" here, this is closer to a requiem feeling.
Two Sonnets to Milton lyrics and a short 10-minute cantata "Farewell to Arms" also sung by James Gilchrist, round out this latest Naxos effort. Again, I've heard them sung by sopranos, but Gilchrist does them justice.
Altogether, this is a wonderful disc for anyone new to Gerald Finzi's romantic & tonal music. Several representative works, lovingly performed by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, and Naxos' unbeatable budget price. Highly recommended.
P.S. - For Finzi fans, you may be interested to know (if you didn't already) that there is a very good biography of him by Stephen Banfield. I bought it in a Canadian bookstore in 2002/2003, don't know if any US distributor ever picked it up."