- Composer: Finzi
- Audio CD (Feb 1 1999)
- SPARS Code: DDD
- Number of Discs: 1
- Label: Ncl
- ASIN: B00000HZXA
- Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #56,863 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
|1. Clarinet Concerto, Op. 31: Allegro vigoroso|
|2. Clarinet Concerto, Op. 31: Adagio, ma senza rigore|
|3. Clarinet Concerto, Op. 31: Rondo - Allegro giocoso|
|4. Five Bagatelles, Op. 23a: I Prelude- Allegro Deciso|
|5. Five Bagatelles, Op. 23a: II Romance- Andante tranquillo|
|6. Five Bagatelles, Op. 23a: III Carol- Andante semplice|
|7. Five Bagatelles, Op. 23a: IV Forlana- Allegretto grazioso|
|8. Five Bagatelles, Op. 23a: V Fughetta- Allegro vivace|
|9. Three Soliloquies From 'Love's Labours Lost', Op. 28: Soliloquy I: The Kings Poem|
|10. Three Soliloquies From 'Love's Labours Lost', Op. 28: Soliloquy II: Longavilles Sonnet|
|11. Three Soliloquies From 'Love's Labours Lost', Op. 28: Solilquy III: Dumaines Poem|
|12. A Severn Rhapsody, Op. 3|
|13. Romance In E Flat Major For String Orchestra, Op. 11|
|14. Introit In F Major For Solo Violin And Small Orchestra, Op. 6|
Once again Naxos delves into the British catalog and delivers a disc of masterful recordings. Personally I think Robert Plane's clarinet matches, if not surpasses, that of Stoltzman. The tone is rich and smooth throughout where Stolztman can get a bit harsh at times. Also Howard Griffiths does a splendid job leading the Northern Sinfonia as they provide a perfect backing for Plane on the Bagatelles and Concerto. Nicely balanced with the soloist.
For the last half hour of the disc the Northern Sinfonia takes over and we are presented with some more wonderful works by Finzi, which to me are simply superior to the Ashmore works that fill the RCA disc. I guess I really can't be too hard on Ashmore as he is the composer who wrote the wonderful arrangements of the Bagatelles performed on both disks: Finzi's original works were for clarinet and piano duo.
I also have to mention The Romance for string orchestra which alone is worth the price of the disc - a prime example of British "pastoral" music. Also the Introit for violin and small orchestra was another wonderful discovery for me and soloist Lesley Hatfield provides a heart felt performance.
Definitely one of those nice surprises from Naxos that not only matches the best the major labels have to offer but may in fact be the definitive recording. Naxos continues to produce one fine recording of British works after another. Keep it up.
(By the way, on Naxos catalog # 8.555766 Howard Griffiths returns with the Northern Sinfonia on another fine recording of Finzi works: this time the Concerto for cello and orchestra and the lush Eclogue for piano and strings. Also highly recommended.)
For the price of a concert ticket you can risk buying a disc like this knowing if it isn't any good, you've not really lost more than an evening's listening.
And, if it is as good as this you've got a gem of a CD introducing you to a composer who you might otherwise never hear.
I won't make massive claims for Finzi: He is a Jane Austen of a composer - provincial, light, witty and entertaining. He isn't a Beethoven or a Brahms.
Having said that, there are moments of darkness, moments of depth, especially in the Clarinet Concerto (surely this recording should mean more live performances?), but the lasting impression is more of joy and, 'Englishness'.
Elgar lies behind this music, as does Vaughn Williams, Holst and Parry - and a whole host of English music teachers (all honourable!). Finzi isn't making (...) copies, he has a voice of his own, a voice with a very strong sense of place and time.
The performances are fine - Robert Plane's clarinet sings lyrically and the Northern Sinfonia under Howard Griffiths support well giving a breath of fresh air to this neglected repertoire.
(By the way - I like Jane Austen)
The concerto, romance, and all of the other pieces on this CD make a great introduction to one of the lesser-known 20th century British composers. Those looking for challenging, abrasive 20th century music best look elsewhere. But even though you probably won't be challenged by Finzi, you will be entertained and moved by him -- and want to return to him again and again. His gift for melody is on full display throughout, and none of the pieces overstays its welcome.
Warm and very human music, superbly played and excellently recorded, with just enough of a sun-dappled halo around the sound to convey the right atmosphere. One of the most glorious values among the many in Naxos' ever-surprising library of bargains.