Stanford, Finzi

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Finzi,Stanford
LABELS: Hyperion Helios
WORKS: Clarinet Concerto in A minor
PERFORMER: Thea King (clarinet); Philharmonia Orchestra/Alun Francis
CATALOGUE NO: CDH 55101 Reissue (1979)
The contrast is striking. Stanford’s Clarinet Concerto may be the more solidly constructed and efficiently crafted work, but compared with Finzi’s vitality, expressive subtlety and long-breathed lyrical charm, it’s rarely more than a worthy effort. Thea King’s shaping and colouring of Finzi’s almost improvisatory melodic lines is more deeply persuasive than any other recorded version I know – touching without being sentimental. As for the Stanford, I’ll just say that King’s playing suggests she likes it more than I did. Neither recording sounds quite as fresh and clear as they did when they first appeared, 20 years ago, but they’re still more than serviceable. Stephen Johnson