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Finzi: Lo The Full Final Sacrifice, Etc / Robinson, Et Al


Release Date: 01/21/2003 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8555792   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Gerald Finzi
Performer:  Christopher Whitton
Conductor:  Christopher Robinson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge St. John's College Choir
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 2 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Gerald Finzi's choral music never has achieved popularity on the level of works by composers such as Stanford, Vaughan Williams, or Elgar, and in general this is because by comparison it's not as well-organized, the inner structural details aren't as carefully developed, and the balance of text with musical ideas isn't as facile. As a result, many of Finzi's choral pieces sound just a bit labored, a bit more difficult than they need to be, the structural edges a bit rough, the overall concept unpolished. Just listen to any of Finzi's partsongs against, say, Stanford's motet Beata quorum via or Elgar's As torrents in summer, or Finzi's Lo, the full, final sacrifice next to Vaughan Williams' Toward the unknown region, and you'll see what I Read more mean.


Not that Finzi is a careless or inept craftsman. Rather, in his vocal music he is a wonderful miniaturist (just listen to his exquisitely wrought 10 children's songs or to his fine solo songs with piano, for example--not included here) whose more expansive efforts just tend to have an unfinished quality that's often allied to an excessively text-bound style that hinders the flow of such pieces as the Magnificat and the anthem Welcome sweet and sacred feast.


And that's too bad, because Finzi's works are packed with beautiful moments, lovely melodic snippets, and delightful quiet sections followed by thrilling climaxes. All of those things are present among these pieces, which provide an excellent introduction to this composer's choral oeuvre. In spite of its structural faults the Magnificat remains a powerful and interesting piece--and the cathedral anthem Lo, the full, final sacrifice is bound to rouse any congregation or audience with its grand singing and organ accompaniment. The seven partsongs are not particularly memorable, for all their effortful dramatic qualities.


Nevertheless, the singing on this disc is very fine--of course, this is a choir that you can count on to have such repertoire down cold--and it's always impressive to hear trebles sing with such solidity of tone and brilliant, never harsh, high notes, perfectly blended and balanced with the lower voices. While there are times that some choral sections stand out a bit too prominently, the organ is exceptionally well recorded. If you're interested in Finzi's choral music, you won't go wrong here--however, if you want the sound of an adult mixed choir in this same repertoire (with a few additional selections), very beautifully recorded, try the reference disc, with the Finzi Singers on Chandos.
--David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Anthems (3), Op. 27: no 2, God is gone up by Gerald Finzi
Performer:  Christopher Whitton (Organ)
Conductor:  Christopher Robinson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge St. John's College Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1951; England 
2.
Magnificat for Choir and Organ/Orchestra, Op. 36 by Gerald Finzi
Performer:  Christopher Whitton (Organ)
Conductor:  Christopher Robinson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge St. John's College Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
3.
Thou Didst Delight My Eyes, Op. 32 by Gerald Finzi
Conductor:  Christopher Robinson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge St. John's College Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
4.
Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, Op. 35 by Gerald Finzi
Performer:  Christopher Whitton (Organ)
Conductor:  Christopher Robinson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge St. John's College Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
5.
Partsongs (7), Op. 17 by Gerald Finzi
Conductor:  Christopher Robinson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge St. John's College Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1934-1937; England 
6.
Lo, the full, final sacrifice, Op. 26 by Gerald Finzi
Performer:  Christopher Whitton (Organ)
Conductor:  Christopher Robinson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge St. John's College Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1946/1947; England 

Sound Samples

3 Anthems, Op. 27: God is gone up, Op. 27, No. 2
Magnificat, Op. 36
3 Anthems, Op. 27: My lovely one, Op. 27, No. 1
3 Anthems, Op. 27: Welcome Sweet and Sacred Feast, Op. 27, No. 3
Thou didst delight my eyes, Op. 32
Let us now praise famous men, Op. 35
7 Partsongs, Op. 17: I praise the tender flower
7 Partsongs, Op. 17: I have loved flowers that fade
7 Partsongs, Op. 17: My spirit sang all day
7 Partsongs, Op. 17: Clear and gentle stream
7 Partsongs, Op. 17: Nightingales
7 Partsongs, Op. 17: Haste on, my Joys!
7 Partsongs, Op. 17: Wherefore tonight so full of care
Lo, the full, final sacrifice, Op. 26: Lo, the Full, Final Sacrifice, Op. 26

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