David Hill

Gerald Finzi: Dies natalis; Farewell to Arms; Two Sonnets

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A splendid companion to the same team's 2005 recording of Gerald Finzi's Intimations of Immortality, tenor James Gilchrist and conductor David Hill with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra once again turn in superlative performances in this 2008 disc coupling three of the English composer's works for voice and orchestra: Dies natalis, Two Milton Sonnets, and Farewell to Arms. As before, Gilchrist is a first-class Finzi singer, agile of technique, strong of tone, and subtle of interpretation. One hears wonder and tenderness in his Dies natalis, ineffable spiritual yearning in his Two Milton Sonnets, and bone-deep sorrow in his Farewell to Arms. And as before, Hill leads the Bournemouth Symphony in accompaniments that ideally suit both the music and the performer, hewing close to the former but staying closer still to the latter. To fill out the disc, Naxos includes three orchestral works by Finzi in wonderfully evocative performances by Hill and the Bournemouth musicians: a stirring Prelude for String Orchestra, a melancholy The Fall of the Leaf, and a mystical Nocturne (New Year Music). While Finzi fans may already have favorite recordings of many of these works, these superb performances will nevertheless be mandatory listening for them. And those who don't already know any of the English modernist's works could do worse than to start with this disc. Naxos' digital sound is atmospheric, but filled with detail and color.

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