ALBUM TITLE: Finnissy: Maldon
WORKS: Maldon; Anima Christi; Palm-Sunday; Vertue; Forget-me-not; Descriptive Jottings of London
PERFORMER: Richard Jackson (baritone), Howard Skempton (accordion), Michael Finnissy (piano), Joby Burgess, Julian Warburton (percussion); Exaudi/James Weeks
CATALOGUE NO: D 110
This is an enthralling disc. From the initial high trombone swoops of Maldon to the final fervent soprano lines of Anima Christi this music grips heart, mind and imagination alike. As with his other music, Finnissy’s choral works are essentially an exploration of individual and collective memory, drawing upon a rich mixture of influences, sources, evocations and archetypes. That these tend to come from earlier choral traditions gives the works a markedly different flavour from Finnissy’s piano music, the presence of historical and/or religious texts giving greater directness to the expression.
Exaudi are stunning advocates, effortlessly beautiful in the skewed strands of Palm Sunday, making calm interjections into the Anglo-Saxon battle narrative of Maldon, and jauntily skipping through Descriptive Jottings of London. The soloists are also outstanding, notably Richard Jackson’s impassioned reading of the dramatic melismas of Maldon, whilst the composer leads a first-rate cast of instrumentalists. As for those who think that Finnissy has turned only recently to choral music, there is the precociously assured Forget-me-not, written when he was just 13. This is compulsive listening for admirers of Finnissy, and, as an excellent introduction to his soundworld, it will win many converts to his music.