Aureole etc.




Golden Age singers

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Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett



Aldo FINZI (1897 – 1945)

Danza (1940)1
Come all’ultimo (1942/3)1
Interludio (1936/7)1
Berceuse (1920)a
Toccata (1930)b
Pavana (1920)b
Liriche per Soprano e Piano (1920/5)c
Dmitry Yablonsky (cello)a; Oxana Yablonskaya (piano)ab; Khibla Gerzmava (soprano)c; Catherine Ganelina (piano)c;
Russian State Orchestra1/Dmitry Yablonsky1
Recorded: Moscow Radio Studio5, June 2002
BEL AIR MUSIC BAM 2029 [64:41]


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The works recorded here span some twenty-five years of Aldo Finzi’s composing life and thus offer a fairly comprehensive survey of his musical journey. His output includes works in almost every genre: chamber music, orchestral works, some choral-orchestral pieces such as Salmo of 1944/5 and a comic opera La Serenata al Vento, some of which is available in commercial recordings. (There is another Bel Air Music disc with pieces by Aldo Finzi but I have not heard it.)

The short, song-like Berceuse for cello and piano composed to celebrate the composer’s first-born child and the Pavana for piano are among the earliest pieces in this selection. The Berceuse still hints at Fauré whereas the Pavana is a simple, direct piece of music also redolent of some other French composers. The rather sketchy, though serviceable, insert notes do not make it clear whether Liriche per Soprano e Piano were composed as a true cycle or, rather, were compiled from songs written at different periods of Finzi’s early composing career, between 1920 and 1925 (the dates to be found in the Aldo Finzi website). Anyway, the literary sources of these simple, often beautiful songs are quite varied: Maeterlinck and Van Lerberghe as well as Longfellow (in Italian translation by Finzi), Arturo Graf (no idea who he is) and Aldo Finzi himself (one song Rondini in Italian and another Catharine in English). From the musical point of view, these songs, beautifully written for the voice (the soprano Giuseppina Finzi Magrini was the composer’s aunt), are more like salon music of quality rather than complex art songs; but they are all quite enjoyable and some (such as Barque d’or on a poem by Van Lerberghe) are particularly fine.

The Toccata for piano brings similar pieces by Debussy, Ravel or even Prokofiev to mind, and is a brilliant virtuoso essay (a potentially popular encore, were it heard more often). Interludio for chamber orchestra and piano, completed in 1937, is a curious piece with an enigmatically misleading title. Indeed, this comparatively austere piece is more like a miniature tone poem in rondo form. This sphinx-like, sparingly scored piece might well be the more complex work here in spite of its brevity. In total contrast, the large-scale symphonic poem Come all’ultimo suo ciascuno artista is an expansive, lushly scored and warmly melodic piece of music of considerable substance. It develops a couple of contrasted ideas, i.e. an impassioned first subject and a more relaxed, lyrical second subject (echoes of Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet). The music represents a continuous interplay between these subjects. It often rises up to powerful climaxes. Though it may be partly influenced by Richard Strauss’s tone poems, the music has a most welcome sunny Mediterranean lyricism magnificently enhanced by some wonderful scoring (Bax also came to mind). A major work that clearly deserves wider currency.

Finally, the short orchestral fantasy Danza (two pianos, two saxophones and orchestra) is quite at odds with any of the other pieces. It is a light-hearted, exuberant frolic tinged with jazzy inflections. Unpretentious, entertaining light music, maybe, but superbly crafted of which this is the first performance and the first recording as well.

Finzi’s music was new to me; but these works certainly whet my appetite to hear more. It does not break new ground and clearly belongs to the early 20th century mainstream; but it is superbly crafted and full of memorable ideas. This well-played and well-recorded release serves the music well and makes good advocacy for Finzi’s music.

Hubert Culot



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