WORKS: Dies natalis; Farewell to Arms; Let us Garlands Bring; Two Sonnets, Op. 12
PERFORMER: Rebecca Evans (soprano), Michael George (bass), Toby Spence (tenor), Nicholas Daniel (oboe) Bournemouth SO/Vernon Handley
CATALOGUE NO: 75605 51285 2
Dies natalis, which describes the world as perceived by a newborn child, has generally been associated with the tenor voice; yet the first soloist was Elsie Suddaby and the first recording (some fifty years ago) was by Joan Cross. Rebecca Evans’s performance, therefore, has particular significance for the Finzi discography; she proves an ardent and tender soloist. Handley’s tempi are more lingering than Marriner’s, while the recording of Ian Bostridge is rather close, though his voice remains beautiful in tone.
Michael George and the Bournemouth SO are excellent in the Shakespeare cycle Let us Garlands Bring. The most ambitious of these, ‘Fear no more the heat o’ the sun’, was a favourite of Vaughan Williams; it is a wonderfully subtle song, from which the lighter final numbers form an ideal release. Nicholas Daniel is a skilful soloist in the Interlude (a first recording), while Farewell to Arms finds Toby Spence in good voice. However, ‘When I set out for Lyonnesse’ sounds like an indifferent imitation of Stanford. Andrew Marriner’s performance of the Clarinet Concerto offers mellifluous tone allied to effortless technique. The Academy strings create a most pleasing sound, as they do also in the attractive Nocturne and Romance. Terry Barfoot