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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A neglected voice
Gerald Finzi's output of orchestral music is small, the concertos for clarinet and cello being his best-known. Finzi's style is tonal and melodic, and he represents a strand of English music that can trace its origins to the romantics, especially Elgar and Richard Strauss.
The performance of the Clarinet Concerto is robust and not overly sentimental, with the...
Published on 2 April 2006 by Amazon Customer

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars pleasant enough background music
As you can see from the other reviews here, it's difficult with music like this. Those who like it stand accused of parochialism - of lacking discernment, or liking things just because they're English - those who don't, of snobbery and being too hard to please. Well, I like the best of Elgar and Vaughan Williams, and this is very much in their idiom; but it's like them at...
Published 4 months ago by gille liath


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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A neglected voice, 2 April 2006
This review is from: Finzi - Clarinet Concerto (Audio CD)
Gerald Finzi's output of orchestral music is small, the concertos for clarinet and cello being his best-known. Finzi's style is tonal and melodic, and he represents a strand of English music that can trace its origins to the romantics, especially Elgar and Richard Strauss.
The performance of the Clarinet Concerto is robust and not overly sentimental, with the counterpoint within the string parts clearly defined. The other pieces are not his best but are still good for a summer afternoon in the garden. For further listening, try the Cello Concerto (Naxos 8,555766) which also includes the lovely Ecologue for Piano and strings.
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38 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 12 Feb 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Finzi - Clarinet Concerto (Audio CD)
There is an awful reverse snobbery about English composers. They are looked down upon by critics, without any one actually giving a reason why, except, it seems, that everyone else says so. Just remember that it wasn't until Mendelssohn came along that JS Bach was appreciated as a great composer.
Finzi's great sin seems to be that he is a twentieth century composer that writes music you can listen to. If you like Elgar, Vaughan Williams and Delius, then you will like Finzi. He did not write large scale, heavyweight music, but that makes him no more a musical lightweight than it does Grieg.
I have no hesitation wholeheartedly recommending this CD. All the music is beautiful and played very well and, at a fiver, you cannot go wrong. Anyone that thinks that Finzi is a cowpat composer is a musical ignoramus.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars English music for clarinet, easy on the ear, 24 Dec 2010
By 
Philoctetes (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Finzi - Clarinet Concerto (Audio CD)
The haunting melody of Finzi's Forlane (from the Bagatelles) drew me to this lovely Naxos CD. Before, Finzi meant little more than a footnote to a recording of RVW's Piano Concerto Vaughan Williams, Delius: Piano Concertos; Finzi: Eclogue, but now I hear a gifted English composer deserving of attention in his own right. The concerto has some passionate moments and the rest of the CD is very pleasing. English pastoralism is part of our musical makeup, and just because it's melodic and often gentle doesn't have to mean it's cloying or superfluous. Since when was melody a symptom of laziness or disengagement?

Music is meant to be enjoyed; it needn't be the aural equivalent of eating brillo pads.
Please yourself.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Welcome surprize, 10 May 2011
By 
Robert Charles Hull (uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Finzi - Clarinet Concerto (Audio CD)
Only came across this music because part of it was used as background for radio 4's production of "Fortunes of War", which I recorded, then listened to endlessly over six weeks while moulding beams in green oak. The few bars they used soaked into my consciousness. I'd never even heard of Finzi until then, so wasn't really sure what his music would be like, beyond the bars I'd learned by heart. This CD was a very welcome surprize. Between-the-wars English, but with bite. Lyrical, but sharp, too. If you like Clarinet, you should buy this CD and give yourself a treat. Mine came the next day, well packed, and at the sort of Naxos price that makes listening a double pleasure.
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thank Goodness for Naxos, 4 Feb 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Finzi - Clarinet Concerto (Audio CD)
For the price of a cheap concert ticket you can risk buying a disc like this knowing if it isn't any good, you've not really lost more than an evening's listening.
And, if it is as good as this you've got a gem of a CD introducing you to a composer who you might otherwise never hear.
I won't make massive claims for Finzi: He is a Jane Austen of a composer - provincial, light, witty and entertaining. He isn't a Beethoven or a Brahms.
Having said that, there are moments of darkness, moments of depth, especially in the Clarinet Concerto (surely this recording should mean more live performances?), but the lasting impression is more of joy and, 'Englishness'.
Elgar lies behind this music, as does Vaughn Williams, Holst and Parry - and a whole host of English music teachers (all honourable!). Finzi isn't making cheap copies, he has a voice of his own, a voice with a very strong sense of place and time.
The performances are fine - Robert Plane's clarinet sings lyrically and the Northern Sinfonia under Howard Griffiths support well giving a breath of fresh air to this neglected repertoire.
(By the way - I like Jane Austen)
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favourite classical album, 2 Oct 2002
By 
Daisy Ghostly (Odense, Denmark) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Finzi - Clarinet Concerto (Audio CD)
Being a hard rock fan with a vague interest in medieval, baroque and rennaissance music I'm relatively new to this whole field of classical music, but I've always wanted to take the plunge and now I've gotten very much into it lately. Classical music is such a wide area, so for the uninitiated those "best of" releases (hated by long-time classical fans, I'm sure) may always be the best place to start. For me it was a case of hearing Bach's "Air" a little while back and being hooked right away, then discovering Handel (who's now my favourite of the old composers), and then stumbling over this Naxos release with Finzi one day. I can't believe he's not more known or respected, I think he's brilliant. I just can't stop listening to this CD, it's now my favourite classical album. Finzi's style is very interesting, almost like he was scoring a film when he wrote his music. The performances are all superb, and I defy anyone to say they don't like this music; I don't see how you can not. I have the other Finzi CD with the excellent Northern Sinfonia from Naxos, and I hope more will eventually come out.
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3.0 out of 5 stars pleasant enough background music, 10 April 2014
By 
gille liath (US of K) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Finzi - Clarinet Concerto (Audio CD)
As you can see from the other reviews here, it's difficult with music like this. Those who like it stand accused of parochialism - of lacking discernment, or liking things just because they're English - those who don't, of snobbery and being too hard to please. Well, I like the best of Elgar and Vaughan Williams, and this is very much in their idiom; but it's like them at their worst rather than their best. Bland and derivative at times, it occasionally has a going-through-the-motions feel like inferior film music: the composer looking for devices to fill up the requisite amount of time. I don't believe the clarinet concerto has one moment of real inspiration from beginning to end; and the last track is a fragment apparently salvaged from a violin concerto which even the composer didn't like!

At the very best it is, as the notes say of Severn Rhapsody, 'unpretentious pastoral'; it is mediocre, not because of the school it belongs to, but because it is not a particularly good example of that school. On the whole it's music most suitable for Last of the Summer Wine, or one of those heartwarming scenic dramas you used to get on Sunday evenings. It's no surprise that it has often been used for soundtracks, nor that nobody outside England has ever heard of the man.

So go on then, call me a snob. You're parochial! ;)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A discovery and one of the best Naxos discs, 26 Feb 2014
This review is from: Finzi - Clarinet Concerto (Audio CD)
I bought this on a whim as I knew none of these works previously and what a rich musical discovery they are in performances one knows immediately, without any comparisons to draw on, that are truly special. I would suggest that this is quite simply one of the most beautiful discs of English music in the catalogue, beautifully performed and beautifully recorded. I don't own many Naxos discs in my collection as it happens, but this is a an amazing bargain and is one of those rare discoveries where I hit gold at first strike.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hidden In Plane View, 10 Dec 2011
By 
Ragnar - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Finzi - Clarinet Concerto (Audio CD)
This disc is excellent. The most substantial piece on it is the Clarinet Concerto, played very well by Robert Plane and the Northern Sinfonia. Unlike the the same composer's cello concerto, the orchestra is strings only, but Finzi's writing for strings is first class and would repay study by anyone wanting to write for string orchestra.
Apprceiation of the music's quality is improved by the recording, which is in no way clinical but still allows you to hear the various lines clearly. The sound is great.

In addiition to the concerto there are several other works, including the Five Bagatelles Op 23a. Also for clarinet and string orchestra, these come across more as a suite than a group of unrelated pieces. (The nearest comparison I can make is the Holberg Suite). Don't let the word 'bagatelles' put you off, they don't pretend to be deep but they are excellent. And also on the disc are four of Finzi's other compositions, including the Severn Rhapsody and the Introit if F for solo violin and small orchestra.

Popular though Finzi's clarinet concerto is, hearing it live is by no means easy so a recording or a radio broadcast is likely to be the best bet. At the time of writing, the price of this disc is 3.49. Better value for money would be hard to imagine.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Up there with Elgar and Vaughan Williams, 13 Jun 2007
By 
Mr. C. J. Waldron "mhsob" (UK & Australia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Finzi - Clarinet Concerto (Audio CD)
What a talent! Finzi is a marvel in 20th century British music. This cd is a wonderful collection, beautifully played, of some of this country's finest classical music. Perhaps Finzi is just too pleasing to the ear for the purest, but the accessibilty of his marvellous music is an absolute treat. Even the kids like this cd.
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