MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around 2023
Approaching 60,000 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             


Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

Classicsonline AmazonUK   AmazonUS


Gerald FINZI (1901-1956)
Dies natalis (I. Intrada; II. Rhapsody; III. The Rapture; IV. Wonder; V. The Salutation) (1925-1939) [26:16]
Prelude for String Orchestra (1929) [4:36]
The Fall of the Leaf (Elegy) (compl. Howard Ferguson) (1929) [9:34]
Two Sonnets for Tenor and Orchestra (I. When I consider; II. How soon hath Time) (1928) [7:37]
Nocturne (New Year Music) (1928, rev. 1940s) [9:39]
Farewell to Arms (I. Introduction; II. Aria) (1926-8, 1940s) [9:01]
James Gilchrist (tenor)
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra/David Hill
rec. Concert Hall, Lighthouse, Poole, 5-6 June 2007. DDD
Recording made possible by the Finzi Trust
NAXOS 8.570417 [66:40]
Experience Classicsonline

The lynchpin here is Dies Natalis. It’s the work by which many discovered Finzi in the 1960s and 1970s courtesy of Wilfred Brown’s perfect recording. There the orchestra was the English Chamber Orchestra conducted by the composer’s son Christopher Finzi. You can hear it on EMI Classics (CDM7 63372 and CDM 565588 2) keeping company with Howells’ Hymnus Paradisi.
Dies Natalis is quintessential Finzi, marrying limpid serenity of musical expression with an ecstatic-philosophical text. The theme of the poems spoke directly to Finzi: childhood as a transcendent religious experience. We can trace Wilfred Brown’s stylistic lineage back, by repute, to Eric Greene (are there any recordings?) and forwards to Ian Partridge who never recorded Dies Natalis and onwards now to James Gilchrist. Their ‘DNA’ is identifiable by intelligent and emotional engagement with the words, sharply delineated syllabic enunciation even at volume, wondrous breath control and steady tonal production. Not everyone likes these qualities; some may find the results too white and mannered. If you prefer other approaches there is no shortage of alternatives. For myself the Brown-Partridge school represents the ideal in Finzi. This disc rates very highly indeed although Gilchrist and Hill have not shaken my recommendation of Partridge and Handley (Lyrita) in the Two Sonnets and Farewell to Arms. This gently breathed Dies Natalis lovingly catches the Tallis hush and wonder of the piece. Taking one example: listen to “the corn was orient and immortal wheat” with gentle breath of the fragile violins as backdrop and played close to silence. The buoyancy and bounce of the playing is spot-on in the more exuberant passages and elsewhere the soloistic violin writing provides a silvery tracery.
Similarly compelling although more modest are the purely orchestral pieces from the warm murmur of the Nocturne to the caressingly shaped Prelude and the autumnal shiver of The Fall of the Leaf (what a title!).
I have a great affection for the two tenor and orchestra diptychs. Finding a home for them in concerts is a challenge but they subsist happily and bestow their blessings on record. Gilchrist is extremely good here but does not supplant Partridge who is softer-toned than Gilchrist when singing at pressurised volume. His identification with the words is never in doubt – listen to the way he tremulously shapes the words ‘I fondly ask’ in When I consider (the first Sonnet) but also how he rises to operatic climax at the end of How soon hath time. Also strongly and subtly done are the songs in Farewell to Arms. The words ‘rustic spade’ are fondly sung and a smile of recognition will come when Gilchrist sings ‘the ventriloquous drum’ – surely a Stanford souvenir. The unison string writing in Aria looks back with affection at Dies Natalis. The piercing ecstasy of transience returns to Finzi campground in the words “Oh time too swift / Oh swiftness never ceasing” with which the piece ends.
As for the liner notes we are in the safe and lucid hands of Andrew Burn. The sung words are not in the booklet but are available at a page on the Naxos website.
There is no direct competition for this particular combination of works on CD. You might consider mixing and matching various Lyritas (SRCD237 and SRCD239) but note that Lyrita never recorded Dies Natalis. Do not forget the Wilfred Brown on EMI.
What do I see in the far distance – is that a Finzi boxed set from Naxos?
Rob Barnett

Finzi Discography by John France

Naxos Finzi series reviews on MusicWeb International
8.553566 Clarinet Concerto
8.555766 Cello Concerto
8.557644 I said to love
8.557863 Intimations of Immortality
8.557963 Earth and Air and Rain


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing




Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Past and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Return to Review Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.