Finzi: Music for Love’s Labour’s Lost; Clarinet Concerto; Prelude for String Orchestra; Romance for String Orchestra; Eclogue for Piano and Strings

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Finzi
LABELS: Nimbus
WORKS: Music for Love’s Labour’s Lost; Clarinet Concerto; Prelude for String Orchestra; Romance for String Orchestra; Eclogue for Piano and Strings
PERFORMER: Alan Hacker (clarinet), Martin Jones (piano); English String Orchestra/William Boughton
CATALOGUE NO: NI 5665 Reissue (1987, 1992)
The collection gathers together string orchestral pieces such as Finzi’s appealing Prelude, the gently Bachian Eclogue (with careful solo work from pianist Martin Jones) and the Romance, all originating in the Twenties. Conductor William Boughton is well inside the music’s moods, though the sinewy tone of the English String Orchestra can veer towards roughness and intonation is occasionally suspect.

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Larger-scale is the suite of incidental music to Love’s Labour’s Lost, though while there are many felicities along the way – with the odd unfurling of theatrical flags amidst the traversal of characteristically Finzian melancholics – the overall effect is bitty.

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More substantial still is the 1948-9 Clarinet Concerto, a piece that suffers from an overly lyrical approach to a form in which some element of drama is essential. Alan Hacker’s reedy tone will not be to all tastes (Emma Johnson is the choice here), though like Boughton he understands Finzi’s regularly ruminative mindset. George Hall