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Finzi: Dies Natalis / Holst: Choral Fantasia, Psalm 86 / Vaughan Williams: Five MYstical Songs, O Clap your hands

4.7 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Easter - John Shirley-Quirk
  2. I Got Me Flowers - John Shirley-Quirk
  3. Love Bade Me Welcome - John Shirley-Quirk
  4. The Call - John Shirley-Quirk
  5. Antiphon - John Shirley-Quirk
  6. O Clap Your Hands - Chor Of King's College, Cambridge
  7. A Choral Fantasia - Dame Janet Baker
  8. Psalm 86 - Ian Partridge/Purcell Singers
  9. Intrada - Wilfred Brown
  10. Rhapsody - Wilfred Brown
  11. The Rapture - Wilfred Brown
  12. Wonder - Wilfred Brown
  13. The Salutation - Wilfred Brown

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Holst's Choral Fantasia is one of his late, austere works scored for soprano soloist (performed here by the mezzo Janet Baker in stirringly oracular form), chorus, organ, timpani, brass and strings. It is, in effect, a requiem for artists, and became a requiem for the poet whose words Holst set, Robert Bridges. The music is uncompromising and direct at first, with only organ and brass in evidence for the first six minutes or so of the work; warmth finally appears with the chorus singing 'Rejoice ye dead...that yet on earth your fame is bright, and that your names remembered day and night live on the lips of those who love you well'. Strings add further to this warmth, reaching a climax with the words 'Now ye are starry names', leading to a chilling denoument with the return of the opening music. It is as if we are here confronted with the bleakness of death, and the rest of the work seems to be addressing how to find reconciliation with that implacable fate; it ends poignantly with a final soprano solo drifting into silence as if in farewell.

This, and the simple yet moving setting of Psalm 86, were the original coupling to the classic Finzi recording already eloquently written about by 'Olfreda'. These alone would make this disc an essential purchase for fans of these composers, but EMI has added some sweet icing in the form of Vaughan Williams's Five Mystical Songs, beautifully performed by John Shirley-Quirk with the Choir of King's College Cambridge. A real treasure of a disc.
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Format: Audio CD
The Wilfred Brown/Christopher Finzi performance of Finzi's Dies Natalis is for me the only performance. I first bought it on LP about thirty-five years ago and played it to death. During the intervening years I have bought other recordings, and many of these are fine, but no one touches Wilfred Brown for the innocence and freshness which, I believe, is essential for ths work.

John Shirley Quirk's Mystical Songs is also magnificent, capturing a fervour that is often lacking elsewhere.

If you love this repertoire, you cannot be without these revelatory performances. Age seems not to touch them. You are left only with vision and wonder.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I chose this CD principally for Dies Natalis. I chose this version because of the tenor Wilfred Brown because I had heard it on the radio and found his performance beautiful in every way, and impressive in that I could hear every word so clearly.
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Format: Audio CD
No need to go into great detail. The Mystical songs do seem more forcefully presented than usual. It often seems to be mellower in tone. The Choral Fantasia is wonderfully dramatic and atmospheric, with the wonderful Janet Baker in fine form, as always. But Wilfred Brown's rendering of the Finzi Dies Natalis is absolutely sublime - for me, no other tenor comes close (not that several of them can be faulted particularly themselves)- it's his incomparable diction, the purity of the voice, the sensitivity to the text - together with the fabulous playing and recording of the English Chamber Orchestra. It's the reason I purchased the CD, having been aware of the performance since the 1960s. So tragic that he died so young.

The other numbers are fine, too, contributing to a genuinely memorable collection of 20th century English vocal and choral music.
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Format: Audio CD
The personal highlight for me on this EMI Classics 5 655882 C.D. is unquestionably Gerald Finzi’s (1901-1956) ravishing choral work 'Dies Natalis' Op. 8, which is a lyrical five-movement solo cantata composed between the years 1938-1939. It is scored for either solo soprano or tenor voice accompanied by string orchestra and was commissioned for the Three Choirs Festival due to be held in 1939 at Hereford Cathedral, England. However, it’s inaugural performance was unfortunately postponed indefinitely due to the outbreak of the 2nd World War.

'Dies Natalis' (literal translation: 'Natal Day' or 'Day of Birth') was set to texts entitled 'Centuries of Meditations' (edited by Bertram Dobell) and written by the 17th century poet Thomas Traherne (c.1637-1674)…

http://www.spiritofprayer.com/03century.php

…consisting of five enchanting movements as follows:

• Intrada (strings only)
• Rhapsody - Recitativo stromentato
• The Rapture - Danza
• Wonder - Arioso
• The Salutation - Aria

Incidentally, the complete text to the piece can be found here:

http://www.naxos.com/PDF/8.570417-sungtext.pdf

This definitive performance of Finzi's choral masterpiece Op. 8 showcases the exceptional sound produced by the English Chamber Orchestra, who were especially conducted by his son Christopher on the original disc. It was recorded in September 1963 and features the delightfully expressive voice of tenor Wilfred Brown, whose life was so tragically cut short by illness at the early age of 49.

The initial stereo 12" vinyl 33 rpm record subsequently appeared in 1964 on the World Record Club - RMC (Recorded Music Circle) label and then some years later in 1972 it was released again as a stereo L.P.
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