Finzi By Footpath and Stile

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Gerald Finzi
LABELS: Resonus
ALBUM TITLE: Finzi By Footpath and Stile
WORKS: By Footpath and Stile; Five Bagatelles; Elegy; Romance; Prelude
PERFORMER: Marcus Farnsworth (baritone), Robert Plane
CATALOGUE NO: RES10109

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The shape of things to come? Resonus Classics claims to be ‘the world’s first solely digital classical label’ and ‘a label built for the 21st century’ – meaning that this issue can only be purchased as a digital download. So if, like virtually all serious classical listeners, you prefer to own the physical product, well, hard luck. Resonus may be keeping its options open, since the (downloadable) booklet is designed in standard CD layout.

Putting aside the label’s questionable reading of the classical marketplace, this is a release of real quality. Looking for more repertory by their chosen composer, the Finzi Quartet has commissioned some accomplished arrangements from composer Christian Alexander. Finzi doesn’t really do strong contrasts of pace and mood, and these classy performances rightly resist the option of exaggerating the music’s insistent refinement. The two most striking works, impressive in Finzi’s equable way, are By Footpath and Stile – a cycle of six Thomas Hardy settings for baritone and quartet, responding memorably to the cool-climate vividness of the poems – and the oddly named Interlude (it’s rather more imposing than that) for oboe and quartet. Soloists Marcus Farnsworth and Ruth Bolister excel in each work.

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Malcolm Hayes