worked with Berg in Vienna in 1931 and
1932. It was a tipping point though
he may not have realised it at the time.
In any event it was the trigger for
a composer whose seed corn was traditional
and nationalistic to have changed his
idiom to serialism by the 1950s. Cause
and effect? Who knows? In any event
the first work on the disc is the latest
and is certainly serially orientated.
It was written for Menuhin who played
it at the Brussels International Exposition.
Across its two movements the music has
carefully picked out Bachian angularity,
flights of virtuosic fantasy and fits
of aggression. It is most sensitively
and brilliantly played. Serialism is
a gentle and modest presence in the
Second Violin Sonata. One is conscious
of the composer being pulled between
the two polarities of lyricism and serialism.
The most extreme and eloquent example
of this is in the third movement Tenderly
but with passion. The Third Sonata
radiates a greater sense of sonata-form
unity than its variegated and suite-like
predecessor. Written in 1954, like No.
2 it was part of a series of works dedicated
to members of the Stanley Quartet. Interesting
that Finney’s fast movements are often
headlong and have a ruthless witchery
about them – perhaps the influence of
Bartok. The severity we heard in the
Fantasy is again heard in the Adagio
sostenuto con variazioni with its
grim-set defiance being to the fore.
After three works of grit or severity
Fiddle-doodle-ad provides welcome
relief with no shame in the sampler
sentiment on show and a warm tear in
the eye. The high-piping The Nightingale
is a real showpiece and so is the
slow blooming – almost Holstian - Oh,
Lovely appearance of death. These
pieces can be heard with their innate
dignity intact – not a shadow of gingham,
thank heavens! Superb, sparkling work
from Cuckson and Sauer.
There are extensive
notes by Miss Cuckson.
Finney’s music: severe,
fantastic and not averse to sparkle;
superbly played and recorded.