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


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



CD: AmazonUK AmazonUS

Gerald FINZI (1901-1956)
CD 1
Earth and Air and Rain, Op 15 [30:32]
Till Earth outwears, Op 19a [16:27]
I said to Love, Op 19b [12:58]
CD 2
A Young Man's Exhortation, Op 14 [28:53]
Before and After Summer, Op 16 [31:06]
Martyn Hill (tenor: op. 14 & 19a); Stephen Varcoe (baritone: op. 15, 16 & 19b); Clifford Benson (piano)
rec. December 1984, The New Concert Hall, University of South Wales, Cardiff,
Originally issued on CDA66161/2
HYPERION DYAD CDD22070 [59:58 + 60:00]
Experience Classicsonline

Hyperion continue to trawl their catalogue for grist for the reissue mill. These Finzi Trust-supported recordings entered the lists in the 1990s when the Finzi catalogue looked very sparse indeed. There was in 1989 no complete set of Hardy cycles on CD. The Lyrita recordings, reissued last year, had sunk far past the plunge of plummet. Naxos and Lyrita have entered the lists only in recent years.

As usual with Hyperion everything is done diligently and with insight. All the words are in the booklet - no need to go to some website - and the perceptive and authoritative liner-note is by Finzi biographer Diana McVeagh who has a lifetime of Finzi scholarship behind her - not to mention her thoughtful work on Elgar. Valued little touches are exactly in place such as giving a date for each song for which a date has been found.

At bargain price these discs command an eminent place in the market and when placed alongside the Hyperion Finzi and Friends disc you have the essence of Finzi in song. However you can do better. The 'problem' lies not so much - in fact not at all - with Clifford Benson. Listen to Stephen Varcoe in The Clock of the Years. He does characterise but he fails to etch the personality and drama of situation with the acted personality we find with John Carol Case on Lyrita. Also his voice has a distinct quaver when holding sustained note as in the word 'theirs' in Proud Songsters. While It Never Looks Like Summer Here is much better in this respect Hill ploughs comparatively shallow in I Look into my glass and again in He abjures love. Varcoe turns delivery of I need not go into sing-song - one feels little of the underpinning emotions and tensions. Compare the meaning with which Neil Jenkins imbues the words “… and lightly dance some triple time romance” in The Dance Continued, the last song in A Young Man's Exhortation with Martyn Hill's assumption. I will grant you that my reaction is affected by having imprinted on these songs from the Lyrita LPs a very long time ago. My reaction however was the same when I bought the full price Hyperion set when it was first issued. Then we come to one of my favourite songs - The Self Unseeing - the words “childlike I danced in a Dream” should have an ecstatic airborne sense of poignant liberation. They stay comparatively earthbound with Stephen Varcoe whose fragility of tone is also exposed in the words “Everything glowed with a gleam”.

What is fascinating is the effect of the Second Viennese School on Finzi as borne in on the listener by songs such as The Too Short Time, The Comet at Yellham and Former Beauties. Britten's influence can be heard in the Childhood Among the Ferns.

These five cycles comprise many great songs. If you discovered them via this set no disservice would have been done however if you can bear late 1960s analogue then go for the Lyrita set.

I have been waspish in this review and I do not mean to infer that these performances lack insight or sympathy. Both qualities are there and are matched by much more than competence. However the full reach of Finzi's keen emotional scalpel is better felt with the Lyrita set … and this for all its analogue hiss, its sometimes papery piano sound and the dryness of Robert Tear's voice.

Rob Barnett

Other relevant Finzi pages
Lyrita - same coupling - RB: see review; JQ: see review
Complementary Finzi song collection on Hyperion - see review
Diana McVeagh’s Finzi biography - see review
John France’s Finzi site


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.