Finzi: Dies natalis; Farewell to Arms; Let us Garlands Bring; Two Sonnets, Op. 12

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COMPOSERS: Finzi
LABELS: Conifer
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.

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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