Finzi: Choral works

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Composer(s):
Finzi
Works:
Choral works
Performer:
St John’s College Choir, Cambridge/Christopher Robinson; Christopher Whitton (organ)
Label:
Naxos
Catalogue Number:
8.555792
Performance:
starstarstarstarnostar
Sound:
starstarstarstarnostar
4
Reviewer:
BBC Music Magazine
Last year’s celebrations of the centenary of Gerald Finzi confirmed his reputation as a composer of limited range, but undeniably a master within that range – for example, in setting devotional texts for choir. Following their earlier successes in British music, Christopher Robinson and his St John’s choir offer a very attractive programme containing all of Finzi’s sacred choral music, with and without organ, augmented by the set of secular part-songs to words by Robert Bridges. The performances are excellent, beautifully tuned and blended, well varied in colour and dynamics, with the text clearly projected (apart from the odd final consonant); and the recording is good, though occasionally the organ seems a little too distant. Robinson’s programme is duplicated, and expanded, on a Chandos disc by Paul Spicer’s Finzi Singers. This mixed chamber choir is arguably more suitable than the St John’s boys and undergraduates for the Bridges settings, and indeed for the Magnificat, written for American college choirs; and Spicer excels in creating the rapt atmosphere of passages like the opening of the festival anthem Lo, the Full, Final Sacrifice. But the Chandos disc is at full price, whereas the bargain-price Naxos is likely to reach many more listeners – and give them great pleasure. Anthony Burton
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