Aurora Orchestra / Nicholas Collon

Introit: The Music of Gerald Finzi

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Instrumental arrangements of songs, not just those of Gerald Finzi, are a comparative rarity in classical music, and one would expect to find some kind of justification of the procedure in the notes to this Decca release. As it happens there is none, and you have to look to the packaging graphics to learn that the intent is to "aid wider appreciation of one of England's best-loved composers." That statement might be a bit contradictory, but apparently the idea is to draw in listeners who don't much care for art song. Your reaction to this may depend on how you feel about the enterprise in general, and hardcore Finzi fans may steer clear. But the album succeeds on its own terms. The Aurora Orchestra under Nicholas Collon offers some genuine orchestral works, including A Severn Rhapsody (1923), the piece that served notice that there was a new pastoralist in town. But sample instead one of the songs, perhaps Come away, come away, Death (track ten), one of several familiar Shakespeare items on the program. From this you'll learn several things. First, the saxophone of soloist Amy Dickson sings in all but words. Second, Finzi's melodies have a rather uncanny quality when shorn of the words: they seem to be straining toward something beyond themselves. And third, the pastoral tone of Finzi's music takes on a certain mystical quality when done this way. Although the music on the album is the work of several different arrangers, its tone and sound are remarkably consistent, and Dickson is used evocatively throughout. Unless you're repelled by the whole idea, give this album a chance: it's often gorgeous, and Decca's engineering work at Fairfield Halls, Croydon, is both appropriate as to sound design and technically flawless.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 02:40 Amazon
Dies natalis, Op. 8
2 04:17 Amazon
3 01:42 Amazon
Love's Labour's Lost - Three Soliloquies
4 01:43 Amazon
5 01:32 Amazon
6 01:16 Amazon
Seven Poems of Robert Bridges, for unaccompanied chorus, Op. 17
7 04:30 Amazon
Earth and Air and Rain, song cycle for baritone & piano, Op. 15
8 01:43 Amazon
9 08:34 Amazon
10 03:43 Amazon
11 04:30 Amazon
12 07:34 Amazon
Earth and Air and Rain, song cycle for baritone & piano, Op. 15
13 04:06 Amazon
Dies natalis, Op. 8
14 05:26 Amazon
15 05:36 Amazon
16 06:36 Amazon
17 11:05 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick