Finnissy: The History of Photography in Sound (excerpts); Snowdrift; O, schöner Mai; Free Setting

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COMPOSERS: Finnissy
LABELS: Metronome
WORKS: The History of Photography in Sound (excerpts); Snowdrift; O, schöner Mai; Free Setting
PERFORMER: Nicolas Hodges (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: MET CD 1058
This is a very attractive recital for both the Finnissy enthusiast and the curious. It presents a range of works and styles from across the composer’s career, reaching as far back as the early Snowdrift (1972) and O, schöner Mai (1967/89). Hodges is especially adept at conveying the composer’s sophisticated approach to his sources, keeping sight of the simple ideas that often underpin the surface complexities.

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He has the confidence, for instance, to allow space for the music to breath in the left-hand, right-hand, hands-together study in transcription and virtuosity of ‘Alkan-Paganini’, the first of two pieces from the recent five-and-a-half-hour cycle The History of Photography in Sound, making this an essential disc for devotees. It concludes, and is dominated by the final movement of History, ‘Etched Bright with Sunlight’. In the context of a complete performance of the cycle, this is a scintillating and succinct codetta. It is a shock, then, to be reminded in the cold light of day that this richly coloured tapestry itself lasts nearly half an hour. That it succeeds as a work in its own right is in no doubt under Hodges’s fingers, providing a substantial and exhilarating conclusion to a marvellous recital. Christopher Dingle