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Gerald FINZI (1901-1956)
Clarinet Concerto Op. 31 (1949) [29:19]
Cello Concerto Op.40 (1956) [41:06]
John Denman (clarinet)
Yo-Yo Ma (cello)
New Philharmonia Orchestra/Vernon Handley (clarinet concerto)
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Vernon Handley (cello concerto)
rec. 1977, 1979. ADD LYRITA SRCD.236 [70:28]
the LP has long held pride of place on one's shelves how
good it is to welcome the CD remastering of Yo-Yo Ma’s Cello
Concerto coupled with John Denman’s lissom performance of the
Clarinet Concerto. Back in the old days the Cello Concerto stood
alone, all forty-one minutes of it.
was Yo-Yo Ma’s first recording and alerted many to the sheer
bigness of Finzi’s inspiration, especially those for whom
bigness in Finzi had been confined to the vocal and choral
works. The power of the opening movement resides in the declamatory,
decidedly non-vocalised orchestral writing and its relationship
with the lingering songfulness of the cello; how the orchestra,
initially cool, relents to join in the narrator-hero’s limpid
beauty of utterance; how Orpheus tames the implacable beasts.
And almost as surprising for those who had him pegged as
a miniaturist, was the frenzy of the Brahms-leaning cadenza.
But the heartbeat of the work is the rapt slow movement,
one of those “ah, yes” moments one sometimes gets with Finzi
when everything seems so utterly right. The pastoral-pensive
writing is beautifully conveyed here – I’m not sure I’ve
ever heard it done better – and so too are the animating
orchestral pizzicati and the verdant winds which join the
cello in its journey. There’s a real narrative here, an encompassing
one, faithfully and richly projected by soloist, orchestra
and conductor alike. The finale is a drama of drumming pizzicati
and wind solos coiling around the cello line like vines.
precisely the vigorous vocality of the companion concerto
that gives it such a sense of elation and verve. The clarinet’s
mellifluous femininity immediately tames and quells the orchestra
in much the same way that the Cello did in the later work. It’s
a feature of both concertos that the solo line is vested
with such power of oratory that it acts as an instrument
of control. Note as well the propulsive, kinetic way that
Denman and Handley manoeuvre to the end of the first movement.
Apposite string weight is a feature of this performance as
well and the delicate solo arabesques are met by the diaphanous
orchestration. There have been a number of recommendable
performances of this Concerto but in its swiftness and ease
this performance still earns the highest accolades.
will look good on your shelves next to the Boult-Lyrita disc
of Finzi miniatures on SRCD239 (see review).
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