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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shakespeare and Hardy Songs by Finzi, Beautifully Done, 8 Jun 2005
By 
J Scott Morrison (Middlebury VT, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Gerald Finzi: I Said to Love / Let Us Garlands Bring / Before and After Summer (Audio CD)
Finzi experienced great and devastating losses early in his life -- his father when he was eight, his main teacher Ernest Farrar in World War I, as well as his three elder brothers -- and he became a withdrawn, introspective man deeply attracted by poetry and most especially the dark and pessimistic poems of Thomas Hardy. He once wrote a friend of Hardy's Collected Poems, 'If I had to be cut off from everything THAT would be the one book I should choose.' Most of his songs, indeed, were set to Hardy poems. Here we have two of his Hardy song sets, 'I Said to Love' and 'Before and After Summer.' Also included are his settings of songs from Shakespeare's plays, including the well-known 'Who is Silvia?,' 'It was a lover and his lass,' and 'Come away, come away, death.'
There are two songs here that stand, for me, among the very best English songs of the twentieth century. 'I said to love,' the last from the set of that name, and 'Fear no more the heat o' the sun,' from the Shakespeare set.
'I said to love' was completed by Finzi just a month before his death in 1956. Its utter desolation is seen in these lines:
'I said to Love,
"Thou art not young, thou art not fair,
No elfin darts, no cherub air,
Nor swan, nor dove are things;
but features pitiless, and iron daggers of distress,"
I said to Love.
"Depart, then, Love!"'
and matched by the keening of the vocal line. The composer rarely raises his voice in any of his works, but there is, just after the final
'"Mankind shall cease. - so let it be," I said to Love,'
Finzi conveys his anger, bitterness and hurt in an unusual, for him, extended, even ugly, piano cadenza that all but shouts his pain. An extraordinary song.
Shakespeare's 'Fear no more the heat o' the sun,' (Cymbeline IV, 2) tells of the inevitability and welcome relief of death:
'Fear no more the heat o' the sun,
Nor the furious winter's rages;
Thou thy worldly task hast done,
Home art gone, and ta'en thy wages:
Golden lads and girls all must,
As chimney-sweepers, come to dust'
Finzi's word-setting as well as the piano commentary are given a haunting 6/4 melody that, once heard, will remain in memory.
Baritone Roderick Williams, a singer previously unknown to me, sings with rich voice, sensitive flexibility, wide dynamic range, and grace. He is accompanied by Iain Burnside, a pianist who is the creative presenter of BBC Three's treasurable 'Voices' program. He is sensitive partner for the singer.
This is a valuable volume, Number 12, in The English Song Series being brought out by Naxos. Finzi is a wonderful song-writer and his songs are here given wonderful performances.
Note: No texts are printed in the enclosed booklet, but are available at the Naxos website ([...])
Scott Morrison
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Finzi songs, 17 May 2005
By 
Dr D R S Long "Ophrys" (RUGBY, Warwickshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Gerald Finzi: I Said to Love / Let Us Garlands Bring / Before and After Summer (Audio CD)
A wonderful introduction to these Finzi songs. Gerald Finzi (1901 - 56) wrote orchestral, chamber and choral music but is chiefly remembered for his songs. These include 5 cycles of settings of Thomas Hardy. Two of these are included on this disc - the very approachable cycle 'I said to love' and 'Before and After Summer'. If you have not enjoyed the late romantic lyricism of Finzi, then do not hesitate! Also included is his Shakespeare cycle 'Let us Garlands Bring'. All this for less than a fiver. Let's hope Naxos bring out the other cycles soon. Roderick Williams sings beautifully, and he is ably accompanied by Iain Burnside.
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