Vernon Handley

Finzi: Nocturne; Severn Rhapsody; Eclogue; etc

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AllMusic Review by James Leonard

Gerald Finzi is no Ralph Vaughan Williams but he often comes quite close. In this disc, the twentieth century English composer sounds enough like Vaughan Williams to be mistaken for him in a misty sonority. Try the opening A Severn Rhapsody, with its evocative pastoral opening; or try the Romance for string orchestra, with its lush scoring for divided strings; or try The Fall of the Leaf, with its tenderly nostalgic mood. This is not to say that Finzi doesn't have his own voice: his part writing is much smoother, his harmonies are much clearer, and his tone is much suaver than Vaughan Williams. But it is to say that anyone who loves Vaughan Williams will love Finzi. At his best in the intensely moving Eclogue for piano and string orchestra, Finzi creates the kind of music that speaks directly to the heart of all those who cherish twentieth century English music. This superbly recorded Lyrita disc combines noble and warm-hearted performances by Adrian Boult and the London Philharmonic with solo violinist Rodney Friend from 1977 with grandly expansive performances by Vernon Handley and the New Philharmonia Orchestra with solo pianist Peter Katin and thereby provides listeners unfamiliar with Finzi with what may be the best single-disc introduction to his orchestral works.

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