The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: YOU MUST HEAR THIS — the slow movement of the Violin Concerto by Gerald Finzi | August 7, 2017

By Jacob Stockinger

The Ear has long had a fondness for the works of the 20th-century British composer Gerald Finzi (below).

His work may be relatively tweedy and conservative, but it is unmistakably modern. It is very poignant and appealing, with accessible harmonies and beautiful melodies. He seems much like a British Samuel Barber.

Ever since he first heard it maybe 20 years ago, The Ear has loved Finzi’s pastoral Eclogue for Piano and String Orchestra, which was meant to be the slow movement of a piano concerto but ended up being an independent work. And, judging by how increasingly  often it gets played on Wisconsin Public Radio, the Eclogue seems to be a favorite among a growing number of fans.

But there are other works.

There is the Romance for Violin and Small Orchestra.

There is the Romance for String Orchestra.

There is the Concerto for Cello.

There is his Romance for Clarinet and String Orchestra as well as the Five Bagatelles for Clarinet and Orchestra.

And now The Ear has discovered the slow movement — appropriately marked “very serene” — of the Violin Concerto by Finzi, which you can hear in the YouTube video at the bottom.

It is performed by British violinist Tasmin Little (below, in a photo by Melanie Winning), who four seasons years ago turned in wonderful performances in Madison with the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra under Andrew Sewell. She played Finzi’s rarely heard “Introit.”

If you want to hear the whole concerto, it is available for free on YouTube from a couple of different performers. And you can find many other works by Finzi on YouTube.

In any case, The Ear hopes the Violin Concerto gets programmed at a local concert.

This past summer, the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society featured a song cycle by Finzi. Even so, we need to hear more music by Gerald Finzi in live performances.

Finzi was a modest and retiring man, publicity shy and not given to self-aggrandizement or self-promotion, who went underperformed and underappreciated during his lifetime. But he is an extremely welcoming and moving modern composer.

The Ear thinks he deserves a better place among other modern British composers who have become more popular, including Ralph Vaughan Williams (shown, below right, with Finzi), Benjamin Britten, Frank Bridge, William Walton and others.

Are there other Gerald Finizi fans out there?

What do you think about him?

And what is your favorite work by Gerald Finzi?

The Ear wants to hear.

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4 Comments »

  1. FYI: The Wisconsin Chamber Choir will be centering their December concert around Gerald Finzi’s “In Terra Pax” with soloists and Sinfonia Sacra, their chamber ensemble. The concert is scheduled for Sat, 12/16 at 7:30. For more info contact: http://www.wisconsinchamberchoir.org

    Comment by sherrihansen2013 — August 8, 2017 @ 4:27 pm

  2. Sent from my iPad

    >

    Comment by Irv Shain — August 8, 2017 @ 1:59 pm

  3. Love the very affecting clarinet concerto.

    Comment by gigi656971 — August 7, 2017 @ 9:55 pm

  4. Tasmin Little has also done an excellent recording of Walton’s Violin Concerto with Edward Gardner leading the BBC Symphony Orchestra also on the Chandos label.

    Comment by Augustine — August 7, 2017 @ 1:04 am


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