By Footpath and Stile, Op.2*
Five Bagatelles, Op.23#/***
#[arr. Christian Alexander for string quartet]
Finzi Quartet [Sara Wolstenholme & Natalie Klouda (violins), Ruth Gibson (viola) & Lydia Shelley (cello)] with Marcus Farnsworth (baritone)*, Ruth Bolister (oboe)** & Robert Plane (clarinet)***
Recorded 5-7 February 2012 [sic] at All Saints’ Church, East Finchley, London
Reviewed by: Colin Anderson
Reviewed: May 2019
CD No: RESONUS RES10109
Duration: 73 minutes
Gerald Finzi’s music can have a devastating effect on the emotions, yet his unmistakeable brand of nostalgia and melancholy is also transporting and offers solace to lonely feelings. The Romance works well in this string-quartet arrangement, intimate in sound and conveying significant sentiments. Lovely music, beautifully played and recorded, and the Finzi Quartet also excels in the other considered transcriptions here, the eloquent Prelude and the equally expressive Elegy (which rises in intensity). The Five Bagatelles also shine in this first recording of this version by Christian Alexander, the addition of a clarinet aiding the colour quotient with Robert Plane mellifluous in sound and shapely of phrase; the tender ‘Romance’ is heart-rending and the ‘Forlane’ congenial.
Of the works here performed as composed by Englishman Finzi (1901-56), By Footpath and Stile is word-setting and Nature-painting at its most-haunting; music of atmosphere and rapture, enhanced here by Marcus Farnsworth’s sympathetic address and immaculate enunciation (Thomas Hardy’s texts are included in the booklet). There remains the Interlude, a darker and more-wide-ranging twelve-minute work than the title might suggest, troubled and passionate as it is, the high-lying and ornate oboe part played with distinction by Ruth Bolister. All in all, this is a notable collection of music that comes from the heart and goes to the heart, and these musicians know just where that organ is. If the recording date is correct, I wonder why the delay? Release date is May 31.