Fresh and Inspired
James Gilchrist's performance of Dies natalis, Thomas Traherne's view of the world as a child would see it, has superb clarity, sensitivity, exuberance and a glorious sense of phrasing that brings captivating life to a work that took Gerald Finzi more that fifteen years to complete to his own uncompromising satisfaction.
Gilchrist is supported by excellent string playing, notable in the purely instrumental Intrada that opens the work, and acts as a thematic introduction to the first of the four poems that make up this cantata, Rhapsody, which is in the form of a recitative. The Rapture unfolds its inspired vocal writing
Listen -- Finzi: The Rapture (Dies natalis)
(track 3, 0:00-1:07) © 2008 Naxos Rights International Ltd
before Wonder and The Salutation conclude the piece in an atmosphere of ecstatic delight.
This recording also includes Two Sonnets for tenor and orchestra, settings of Milton dating from 1928 when Finzi was twenty-seven. In the second (How soon hath Time, the subtle thief of youth -- Milton at twenty three realizing the transience of life) Finzi produces another of his beautifully fine broad well sustained lines, ever driving forward.
Listen -- Finzi: How soon hath Time (Two Sonnets)
(track 9, 1:46-2:42) © 2008 Naxos Rights International Ltd
This he also achieves in a similarly climactic manner in The Fall of the Leaf, an orchestral movement intended as part of a triptych and, like several of Finzi's pieces, left incomplete -- this sensitive rescue being the work of his friend Howard Ferguson.
Listen -- Finzi, completed by Howard Ferguson: The Fall of the Leaf
(track 7, 6:31-7:44) © 2008 Naxos Rights International Ltd
Gilchrist also gives a strong performance of the two songs entitled Farewell to Arms, and the CD also includes the Prelude for strings, originally intended as a movement of a chamber symphony, and a Nocturne subtitled New Year Music, a piece which rather than be joyous, reflects on the sadness of the passing year in a sensitive use of the orchestra.
Listen -- Finzi: Nocturne (New Year Music)
(track 10, 8:01-9:01) © 2008 Naxos Rights International Ltd
For those waiting for a fresh and inspired recording of Finzi, especially the songs, this will reward the wait.
Copyright © 5 February 2009
Patric Standford, Wakefield UK
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CD INFORMATION: FINZI: DIES NATALIS
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