In Terra Pax
The gem here is Finzi’s In terra pax, a 16-minute ‘Christmas scene’ for choir, two soloists and orchestra, merging Bridge’s poetry with St Luke’s gospel. From late in Finzi’s life, it is suffused with English pastoral yearning, and baritone Roderick Williams sings beautifully in the outer sections.
Of similar proportions, if expressively less intense, is the ‘Winter’ section of Vaughan Williams’s Folk Songs of the Four Seasons, four colourfully scored settings which find the women of the City of London Choir in fulsomely committed voice. Leighton’s unaccompanied ‘A Hymn of the Nativity’ is another stand-out item in this valuable anthology.