Featured Works

A Young Man’s Exhortation

Clarinet Concerto

Dies Natalis

Earth and Air and Rain

For St. Cecilia

Intimations of Immortality

Requiem da Camera

 

 

A Young Man’s Exhortation

op. 14 (1926-29) 26'
for tenor and piano

Music Text
Thomas Hardy (E)

Repertoire Note
This collection of the late 1920s acknowledges the influence of Holst and Vaughan Williams at times in its textures and melodic structure. It is Finzi’s only true song cycle for voice and piano, non-narrative yet tracking a path from youthful vigour and idealism to a peaceful farewell to life beneath the autumnal trees. The first part of the cycle is subtitled with the text "In the morning it flourisheth, and groweth up" while that attached to the second part is "In the evening it is cut down, and withereth." The songs span the full range between the lush harmony of 'Her Temple' and the sparse strands of 'The Comet at Yell’ham'. Here are songs of youthful sincerity in which moments of moving intensity shine through, the composer showing himself to be at one with the mind of the poet.

Items on sale
Young Man’s Exhortation
Voice, piano

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Clarinet Concerto

Op.31 (1948-49) 26'

Scoring
strings

World Premiere
9 Sept 1949, Hereford
Frederick Thurston, clarinet / London Symphony Orchestra / Gerald Finzi

Repertoire Note
This collection of the late 1920s acknowledges the influence of Holst and Vaughan The Clarinet Concerto, Finzi’s most widely performed and recorded orchestral work, shows his particular empathy for this solo instrument. Here the clarinet’s equal facility for sustained legato melody and rapid virtuosic figuration is supported by and interacts with his ever-imaginative writing for strings. The concerto breathes an air of fresh spontaneity, moving through baroque-inflected pastoralism, aching Elgarian echoes and lively folk-inspired melody. Artists who have become particularly associated with the work in concert and on disc in recent years include Emma Johnson, Richard Stoltzman, Michael Collins and Andrew Marriner. Its string accompaniment makes it ideal for coupling with Dies natalis or Let us garlands bring, shorter works such as Prelude and Romance, or string orchestra repertoire by Elgar, Vaughan Williams or Britten.

Items on sale
Clarinet Concerto Op.31 study score – HPS 956
Clarinet Concerto Op.31 clarinet, piano

Recommended Recording
Emma Johnson, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Charles Groves
ASV CDDCA 787

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Dies Natalis

Op. 8 (mid 1920s,1938-39) 25'
Cantata for soprano (tenor) and strings

Music Text
Thomas Traherne (E)

World Premiere
26 Jan 1940, Wigmore Hall, London
Elsie Suddaby, soprano / Maurice Miles String Orchestra / Maurice Miles

Repertoire Note
Quintessentially the essence of Finzi, Dies natalis sets texts by the 17th century poet Thomas Traherne which reflect the joy and wonder of a newborn child’s innocent perspective on the world. The richly textured, resourceful string writing and the long instrumental melodic lines have a broad sweep which carries the music naturally forwards in a unity of spirit with the poetry – a hallmark of Finzi’s art. The subtle inflections of the word-setting and the arching lyricism have attracted many leading vocalists to the work in concert and on disc, including Wilfred Brown, Ian Partridge, Philip Langridge, Ian Bostridge and John Mark Ainsley. Although particularly associated with the tenor voice, Dies natalis was premiered and is increasingly performed by sopranos, including Amanda Roocroft and Rebecca Evans..

Items on sale
Dies natalis Op.8 voice, piano > Details
Dies natalis Op.8 study score - HPS 97 > Details

Recommended Recording
Wilfred Brown, English Chamber Orchestra, Christopher Finzi
EMI CDM5 65588-2

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Earth and Air and Rain

Op.15 (1928-35) 29'
for baritone and piano

World Premiere
2 July 1945
National Gallery, London
Keith Falkner, bar / Howard Ferguson, pft

Repertoire Note
Composed between 1932 and 1936, this cycle contains two of Finzi’s best known songs ’Rollicum-Rorum‘ and ‘To Lizbie Browne’. Curiously, in a self-effacing moment, he described these pieces as “the two worst in the set”, an opinion which says more about Finzi’s introvert character than his artistic judgement. The exuberance of the former song and the simple pathos of the latter in which the music and the text seem to have been forged together, speaks memorably to the listener, whilst the drama of ‘The Clock of the Years’ is terrifyingly vivid. As Stephen Banfield writes, ̶;In some ways this is Finzi’s richest score”.

Items on sale
Dies natalis Op.8 voice, piano
Dies natalis Op.8 study score - HPS 97

Recommended Recording
Wilfred Brown, English Chamber Orchestra, Christopher Finzi
EMI CDM5 65588-2

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For St. Cecilia

op. 30 (1946-47) 19'
Ceremonial Ode for tenor solo, chorus and orchestra

Music Text
Edmund Blunden

World Premiere
22 Nov 1947, Royal Albert Hall, London
Rene Soames, tenor / BBC Symphony Orchestra / Luton Choral Society / Adrian Boult

Repertoire Note
This is ideal for choirs who have enjoyed performing works such as Parry’s Blest Pair of Sirens, an ode with which it bears many similarities, not least in the resplendent, ceremonial orchestral prelude which announces the choir’s fanfare-like first entry. The work provides plenty of variety in the choral writing and there are few sections with complex counterpoint, making it readily performable by most choral societies. There are doublings in all four voice parts but these are by no means extended and, save for a few isolated bars, the orchestra accompanies the choir throughout. A semi-chorus is indicated for a short passage in the centre of the work but this may be sung by all the singers if the choir is small. For choirs who have not performed any Finzi previously, this work would make an excellent and rewarding introduction.

Items on sale
For St Cecilia (Cerem. Ode)

Recommended Recording
Philip Langridge, London Symphony Chorus, London Symphony Orchestra, Richard Hickox Decca 4688072

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Intimations of Immortality

op. 29 (late 1930s,1949-50) 43'
Ode for tenor solo, chorus, and orchestra

Music Text
William Wordsworth (E)

Repertoire Note
This is the most extended of Finzi’s choral works, composed in one continuous musical movement of truly symphonic proportions. Perhaps of all the choral works, Intimations of Immortality shows his word-setting at its most expressive and poignant, demonstrating his personal and individual affinity with the poet Wordsworth, and his resourcefulness in finding imaginative ways to set poetry which many had regarded as unsettable because of its classic status. The variety of moods ranges widely, from the pastoral lyricism of the opening, through the intimate Delius-like The rainbow comes and goes, to the jazzy and extrovert depiction of birdsong which is close in idiom to Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast or Lambert’s Rio Grande. The work would provide a substantial second half to a programme for choral societies, and is enjoyable and rewarding to rehearse, but is not without its demands on the chorus in terms of stamina and expressive flexibility. The solo tenor part has been performed and recorded by leading tenors including Philip Langridge, Martyn Hill and John Mark Ainsley.

Items on sale
Intimations of Immortality vocal score SATB

Recommended Recording
Philip Langridge, Liverpool Philharmonic Choir, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Richard Hickox EMI CDM 764 720-2

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Requiem da Camera

(1923-24) 24'

Scoring
choir, chamber orchestra & baritone soloist

World Premiere
7 June 1990, Spitalfields Festival, London
Stephen Varcoe / City of London Sinfonia & BBC Northern Singers / Richard Hickox

Repertoire Note
The Requiem da camera, one of Finzi’s early works dealing with the subject of the futility of war, uses texts by Masefield, Hardy and Gibson. Although Finzi’s musical influences are clearly audilble (notably Parry and Vaughan Williams), many of Finzi’s own musical ‘thumbprints’ are here too - his open-ended counterpoint, soaring melodic lines and some magical a cappella choral writing. Finzi wrote the Requiem da camera in memory of Ernest Farrer, his composition teacher who was killed at the end of the First World War. Having written the work between 1923-24, Prelude was performed in 1925. Finzi subsequently reworked the third movement - although the orchestration of the draft score of this movement remained incomplete. Completion of this instrumentation was undertaken by Philip Thomas in 1984, and Requiem da camera received its full premiere in 1990.

Items on sale / hire
Requiem da camera Op.3 choral score - M060126819
Requiem da camera Op.3 full score - M060126796
Instrumental parts available for hire

Recommended Recording
Britten Singers/City of London Sinfonia/Richard Hickox
CHAN 8997

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