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Rob Barnett
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The Clock of the Years - a Gerald and Joy Finzi Anthology
ed. Rolf Jordan
Chosen Press
ISBN 978 0 9556373 0 8
300 pp.
£20.00 or $30.00

This book is as from 1 December 2007 distributed by Boydell and Brewer and the price has increased to £25.00.

However if you are a member of the British Music Society the book can be ordered direct from Philip Lancaster at the original price of £20.00 including post and packing:-

Philip Lancaster
3 The Close
Staffordshire WS13 7LD
01543 257878
07989 197998

The Finzi Friends have been in existence promoting the music and knowledge of Finzi’s life-work since the late 1970s. Their newsletters represent a significant research treasury. This book celebrates 25 years of the Friends’ Newsletters but casts its net well beyond the pages of the newsletter, vol. 1 no. 1 of which is reproduced as Appendix 3. It collects often long unavailable writings by and about both Gerald and Joy. The presentation and appearance of the book including a wrapper photo that magnificently relates eternity to the ‘orient and immortal wheat’ referred to in Dies Natalis is fully in keeping with the standards of ‘Craftsman’s art and music’s measure’.

There is a foreword by Paul Spicer and three indices (general, works, contributors). Some 90 pieces of writing are organised into 12 sections including At Ashmansworth, The Poems of Joy Finzi, writings by and about Gerald Finzi, an examination of the Hardy-Finzi connection, Friendship (Milford, Dale Roberts, Ferguson, Scott, Leighton, Bliss, Farrar, Rubbra, RVW, Howells, Gurney), music-making and a composer’s gallery.

The 30 plates mix a few familiar ones with many that are not. Good to see that the latest generation of Finzi performers are represented there including James Gilchrist, Howard Wong, Roderick Williams and Iain Burnside.

The Finzi ‘cake’ is cut at many angles and attitudes – there’s even a selection of Howard Ferguson’s recipes – some with a decidedly seasonal tang. It is all very satisfying and deeply rewarding to dip into.

I rather regretted that there was nothing by Ian Partridge about his experience of interpreting Finzi – especially Intimations, or by Christopher Bunting about ‘creating’ the premiere of the Cello Concerto, or by the singers who championed Finzi in the 1940s and 1950s, most grievously Eric Greene, nor anything by one of his greatest and least predictable Finzi admirers, Benjamin Frankel. However I suspect that the material simply was not there.

Contributions are sometimes very short – a couple of paragraphs up to a maximum of ten pages but the whole makes for a glowing complement to the biographical works by Diana McVeagh and Stephen Banfield as well as the bio-bibliography by John Dressler.

I still have hopes that one day archive recordings of the premieres of Intimations and the Cello Concerto will appear. Finzians will not however be disappointed with this book and indeed if you are at all interested in Finzi’s circle, the story of his life and of the renaissance of his music since the early 1970s this book is essential, surprising and gratifying reading.

Rob Barnett



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