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Iain Burnside, piano/Roderick Williams, baritone

Before and after Summer, Op. 16 • I said to Love, Op. 19b • Let us garlands bring, Op. 18

I said to Love, Op. 19b
I need not go
At Middle-Field Gate in February
Two Lips
In five-score Summers
For Life I had never cared greatly7
I said to Love


Let us garlands bring
Come away, come away, death
Who is Silvia?
Fear no more the heat o' the sun
O Mistress Mine
It was a lover and his lass

Before and after Summer

Childhood among the Ferns
Before and after Summer
The Self-unseeing
Overlooking the River
Channel Firing
In the mind's eye
The Too Short Time
He abjures Love

Gerald Finzi's is a unique voice amongst English "pastoral" composers, amongst whom I generally spend little listening time. He died young, having composed numerous songs but with the modest aim of sharing his enjoyment of favourite poems. Fastidious settings, they often stayed in his 'bottom drawer' for years before reaching the light. He believed that fine poems were complete in themselves, and his approach was 'only to gild the lily'.

By coincidence two CDs of Finzi songs have been released very recently, and by good fortune they don't duplicate the same repertoire, although both include Hardy cycles. Roderick Williams has a characterful baritone, and his diction is impeccable - almost too much so for complete naturalism, I sometimes felt, unfairly. The moods are well varied. The Shakespeare songs are fairly popular, and Finzi's way with his piano parts (the excellent Ian Burnside) is unmistakably his own, recognisable in a few bars.

There are sixteen Thomas Hardy settings, the most ambitious Channel Firing, nearly seven minutes long. Scrupulous preparation and vivid recording at Potton Hall, well balanced. Singer and pianist are billed as equals, as so they should - on the Naxos website, pianist first as above, which you'll almost never see

To keep to Naxos's budget pricing, no texts are printed in the booklet. But for those who feel they need them (I nearly always do, and their lack often vitiates a positive recommendation!) Naxos has made them available to download easily from their website, something which has oft been urged in Musical Pointers and in Seen&Heard. http://www.naxos.com/libretti/finzi.htm

Hopefully other companies will follow suit?

See also the new Finzi songs recording from Linn by James Gilchrist and Anna Tilbrook, which includes a different Hardy set.


© Peter Grahame Woolf