Finzi: Cello Concerto; Eclogue; New Year Music; Grand Fantasia and Toccata

Finzi: Cello Concerto; Eclogue; New Year Music; Grand Fantasia and Toccata

by Louis Lortie

SACD(Super Audio CD - SACD Hybrid)

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Overview

Best known as a choral composer, Gerald Finzi wrote few large-scale instrumental works, and this audiophile recording from Chandos presents a handful of the most important. The "Cello Concerto in A minor, Op. 40," along with Finzi's "Clarinet Concerto," is among his most frequently played pieces, and its popularity has only increased with the growing number of recordings made since the millennium. For this 2018 release by Sir Andrew Davis and the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the solo part of the "Cello Concerto" is vividly rendered by Paul Watkins, who brings a dramatic presence and soaring lyricism to its brooding, pastoral music. Because the work is skillfully orchestrated, with widely-spaced passages of transparent accompaniment that allow the cello to shine through, Watkins is always easy to hear, even in the cello's less assertive middle range. To balance the "Cello Concerto" on the program, the "Eclogue in F major, Op. 10 for piano and strings" and the "Grand Fantasia and Toccata in D minor, Op. 38 for piano and orchestra" are offered, with the peripatetic Louis Lortie as the soloist. These pieces are combined into a kind of piano concerto, in lieu of an official Finzi work by that designation, and the somber, purely orchestral "Nocturne in C sharp minor, Op. 7" (also known by the title "New Year Music"), has been inserted as a slow movement. On the whole, this is an appealing disc that burnishes Finzi's reputation, and listeners who are curious about his music would do well to start with these approachable post-Romantic pieces.

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