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Oh Fair To See (songs by Gerald Finzi)

James Gilchrist

Oh Fair To See (songs by Gerald Finzi)

CKD 253 (Linn Records)
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CD Quality

FLAC 16bit 44.1kHz 217.8MB $13.00

CD Quality

ALAC 16bit 44.1kHz 227.2MB $13.00

MP3

MP3 320k 44.1kHz 144.8MB $11.00
Prices shown in US Dollars



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Tracks: Listen and Download

Format
Track Time Listen
1
I say “I’ll seek her side”

I say “I’ll seek her side”

Composer Gerald Finzi
Guest Artist Anna Tilbrook - piano
2:53 Play $1.70
2
Oh fair to see

Oh fair to see

Composer Gerald Finzi
Guest Artist Anna Tilbrook - piano
1:49 Play $1.70
3
As I lay in the early sun

As I lay in the early sun

Composer Gerald Finzi
Guest Artist Anna Tilbrook - piano
1:53 Play $1.70
4
Only the wanderer

Only the wanderer

Composer Gerald Finzi
Guest Artist Anna Tilbrook - piano
2:01 Play $1.70
5
To Joy

To Joy

Composer Gerald Finzi
Guest Artist Anna Tilbrook - piano
3:26 Play $1.70
6
Harvest

Harvest

Composer Gerald Finzi
Guest Artist Anna Tilbrook - piano
4:26 Play $1.70
7
Since we loved

Since we loved

Composer Gerald Finzi
Guest Artist Anna Tilbrook - piano
1:26 Play $1.70
8
Let me enjoy the earth

Let me enjoy the earth

Composer Gerald Finzi
Guest Artist Anna Tilbrook - piano
2:28 Play $1.70
9
In years defaced

In years defaced

Composer Gerald Finzi
Guest Artist Anna Tilbrook - piano
3:29 Play $1.70
10
The Market-Girl

The Market-Girl

Composer Gerald Finzi
Guest Artist Anna Tilbrook - piano
1:45 Play $1.70
11
I look into my glass

I look into my glass

Composer Gerald Finzi
Guest Artist Anna Tilbrook - piano
1:52 Play $1.70
12
It never looks like summer here

It never looks like summer here

Composer Gerald Finzi
Guest Artist Anna Tilbrook - piano
1:16 Play $1.70
13
At a lunar eclipse

At a lunar eclipse

Composer Gerald Finzi
Guest Artist Anna Tilbrook - piano
3:58 Play $1.70
14
Life laughs onwards

Life laughs onwards

Composer Gerald Finzi
Guest Artist Anna Tilbrook - piano
2:08 Play $1.70
15
A Young Man’s Exhortation

A Young Man’s Exhortation

Composer Gerald Finzi
Guest Artist Anna Tilbrook - piano
3:13 Play $1.70
16
Ditty

Ditty

Composer Gerald Finzi
Guest Artist Anna Tilbrook - piano
3:40 Play $1.70
17
Budmouth Dears

Budmouth Dears

Composer Gerald Finzi
Guest Artist Anna Tilbrook - piano
1:42 Play $1.70
18
Her Temple

Her Temple

Composer Gerald Finzi
Guest Artist Anna Tilbrook - piano
2:10 Play $1.70
19
The Comet at Yell’ham

The Comet at Yell’ham

Composer Gerald Finzi
Guest Artist Anna Tilbrook - piano
3:05 Play $1.70
20
Shortening Days

Shortening Days

Composer Gerald Finzi
Guest Artist Anna Tilbrook - piano
2:34 Play $1.70
21
The Sigh

The Sigh

Composer Gerald Finzi
Guest Artist Anna Tilbrook - piano
3:13 Play $1.70
22
Former Beauties

Former Beauties

Composer Gerald Finzi
Guest Artist Anna Tilbrook - piano
2:53 Play $1.70
23
Transformations

Transformations

Composer Gerald Finzi
Guest Artist Anna Tilbrook - piano
1:33 Play $1.70
24
The Dance Continued

The Dance Continued

Composer Gerald Finzi
Guest Artist Anna Tilbrook - piano
3:51 Play $1.70
Total Running Time 63 minutes Purchase all tracks 
$13.00 
Prices shown in US Dollars
A beautiful selection of Finzi song cycles with text by Thomas Hardy and other notable English poets.
Download includes - cover art, inlay, booklet
Anna Tilbrook

Anna Tilbrook

The distinguished pianist and accompanist, Anna Tilbrook, has collaborated with many leading singers and instrumentalists including Sir Willard White, Lucy Crowe and James Gilchrist. "Anna Tilbrook is excellent" (Gramophone) 
profile & recordings >>
James Gilchrist

James Gilchrist

English tenor James Gilchrist is a sought-after recitalist whose voice has been described as pure and sensitive with an even and beautiful tone.
profile & recordings >>

Produced by Philip Hobbs

This recording is available on CD as part of the boxed set 'The English Song Collection'.

James Gilchrist - Tenor
Anna Tilbrook - Piano 

Gerald Finzi was born in London on 14th July 1901. In October 1915 his mother moved the family to Harrogate to escape the aerial bombardment of London, which had begun in April of that year. It was in Harrogate that Finzi had his first formal music tuition from the composer Ernest Farrar. Finzi was an enthusiastic pupil and held a high regard for his teacher. After Farrar was killed in September 1918 in the battle of Epehy Ronssoy, on the Somme, Finzi maintained a lifelong devotion to Farrar’s memory. Finzi’s Requiem da Camera is dedicated to his memory and a couple of his works seem to be influenced by those of Farrar. Finzi’s setting of Edward Shanks’ (1892-1953) ‘As I lay in the early sun’ could be one such work. The lilting, falling third figure which runs through the song creates a languorous atmosphere similar to that instilled by the same figure used in the second of Farrar’s English Pastoral Impressions, ‘Bredon Hill’, a work first performed just before Finzi’s arrival in Harrogate and posthumously published in 1920 - the year before Finzi composed this setting.

At around the same time as the Shanks setting, Finzi completed his opus 1: ten settings of words by Christina Rossetti (1830-1894) for upper voices and piano, possibly following a fashion at about this time for her more simplistic verse. The Rossetti setting, ‘Oh Fair to See’, was composed later, in 1929, and is a pre-Housman evocation of the beauty of the cherry tree.

It was whilst sitting in on a singing lesson given by Finzi’s next music teacher, Edward Bairstow, that Finzi first heard Ivor Gurney’s (1890-1937) song ‘Sleep’. The song made such an impact that Finzi soon began a ‘lifelong crusade’ to bring Gurney’s work to a wider audience. His setting of Gurney’s poem ‘Only the wanderer’ was composed in 1925, before Finzi knew Gurney’s own setting of the poem.

One of Finzi’s aids in his work promoting Gurney’s work was Edmund Blunden (1896-1974), who, in 1951, stayed with the Finzis at their home at Ashmansworth whilst preparing a selection of Gurney’s poetry for publication. Finzi had hoped to complete a set of songs to Blunden’s own poems, in the event only completing two. The first, the ironically titled ‘To Joy’, composed in 1931 before Finzi and Blunden had met, finds poet and composer forming a perfect union, capturing a touching humanity in the selfless ‘Our tears fall, fall, fall – I would weep my blood away to make her warm’. The innocence and vulnerability of infancy is a subject that much attracted Finzi, as epitomised in Dies Natalis. In this case the poem was written by Blunden following the death of his first child, Joy, in 1919, aged just five weeks. Finzi’s widow, Joy, said that Finzi considered it one of his best songs, feeling that it ‘evoked the Suffolk sky where the clouds herald the breath of the storm’.

The second completed Blunden setting is ‘Harvest’, a poem that, Trevor Hold observes, ‘Blunden sees... as a metaphor for his own life: a creative harvest that has not come to its hoped-for fruition.’ Finzi composed the setting in 1956, his last year of life, and is a poignant casting in music of his thoughts following his diagnosis with Hodgkin’s disease in 1951. As Finzi himself quoted in a postscript to his catalogue of works, added after his diagnosis: ‘My thread is cut, and yet it is not spun’.

‘Since we loved’, the final song in the set, was the last work to be completed by Finzi. One cannot help seeing this last breath of creativity as a tribute to his wife, Joy, who had been the mainstay of his life and art since their marriage in 1933.

The first song of Oh Fair to See, and all of those in Till Earth Outwears and A Young Man’s Exhortation, are settings of Thomas Hardy (1840-1928). Hardy is a poet with whom Finzi is now inextricably linked. The sensibilities expressed in Hardy’s poetry resonated deeply within Finzi and, of his 160 song settings (including fragmentary works), its significance is shown in the fact that nearly half of these are of Hardy.

A Young Man’s Exhortation was the first of Finzi’s Hardy sets with piano accompaniment to be published, in 1933, although an early cycle for baritone and string quartet, By Footpath and Stile, had been published in 1925. Despite their non-narrative nature, and unlike Finzi’s later Hardy sets, these two early works were intended as cycles.

A Young Man’s Exhortation is divided into two parts, both headed with a clause from verse 6 of psalm 90. Part I, ‘Mane floreat, et transeat’ (‘In the morning it flourisheth, and groweth up’), is a section graced with songs of youth and love; Part II ‘Vespere decidat, induret et arescat’ (in the evening it is cut down, and withereth), brings us to the autumn of life, with memories of the spring and summer of youth, and, finally, human passing. In practice the parts are not quite as clear-cut. Hardy and Finzi cannot escape the subject of human transience towards the end of Part I, ‘Her Temple’ speaking of a shrine to a loved one, and the timeless, quasi-recitative setting of ‘The Comet at Yell’ham’: ‘It will return long years hence... but not then on that sweet form of thine.’ This latter song finds its counterpart in Till Earth Outwears. ‘At a lunar eclipse’ is set in the same senza misura, quasi-recitative manner, perhaps in an attempt to evoke the still, timeless, unconstrained nature of the cosmos.

In his songs Finzi shares with us joy and introspection, characters and philosophies. From a rare glimpse of triumph in ‘The Market-Girl’, to the coming of the cider-maker in ‘Shortening days’. ‘In Years Defaced’ brings us to a place once shared by lovers, now parted. In this song the piano interlude after the first stanza perhaps foreshadows the final ‘Amen’ of Lo, the Full, Final Sacrifice of ten years later.

The subject of mortality is recurrent, perhaps the result of his early life being so overshadowed by loss, with the death of his brothers, father, and teacher, all before he had reached adulthood – not to mention the later cloud of his own terminal illness.

‘Transformations’ is one of two settings of Hardy in Finzi’s output in which those buried in a churchyard live once more through the plants and flowers that grow on their resting places to greet passers by. This could have been Hardy’s – and thence Finzi’s – ‘belief’, as an agnostic, of human perpetuation, becoming part of the earth from which we came. Such is also echoed in the ‘Window to English Music’ in the church opposite Finzi’s home at Ashmansworth. Engraved by a friend of the Finzi family, Laurence Whistler, in 1977, it depicts the initials of English composers at the roots of, and growing up into, a tree. Finzi himself is joined by a host of friends and other English composers from all ages:
So, they are not underground,
But as nerves and veins abound
In the growths of upper air,
And they feel the sun and rain,
And the energy again
That made them what they were!

Philip Lancaster: 2005

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Klassik.com
4 Stars
'Eine spannende Repertoireerweiterung...'
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This is Oxford
A rare combination of vocal beauty and the intelligence
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Scotland on Sunday
A welcome edition to the English song genre
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Sunday Herald
These are fine performances and a valuable insight into the art of Finzi.
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Northumberland Journal
CD of the Week
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Gramophone
Another singer and pianist fully in tune with the spirit of these elusive songs.
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BBC Music Magazine
5 Stars
Outstanding for performance and sound - a Benchmark Recording
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What's on in London
CD of the Week
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International Record Review
An effective and reflective recording of Finzi
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Daily Telegraph
His clear, easily produced voice is a pleasure in itself.
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ClassicalSource.com
A CD of innumerable treasures, one essential for any lover of English song - or of song in general.
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MusicWeb-International.com
Gilchrist's voice is in superb form here
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The Independent
4 Stars
Gilchrist savours his words
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The Scotsman
4 Stars
Pure and penetrating
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The Evening Standard
I have no doubt he would have been a fine doctor, but I'm glad Gilchrist made the career choice he did.
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MusicalPointers.co.uk
A superb and lovely disc
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MusicalPointers.co.uk
'A completely satisfying' live performance
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