Finzi - James Gilchrist - Daily Telegraph
27 June 2005Daily Telegraph
A pacifist agnostic, scarred by the loss of his three elder brothers in the First World War, Gerald Finzi was ineluctably drawn to the poetry of Thomas Hardy. Some of his Hardy settings can soften the bitter irony and black humour brilliantly caught by Benjamin Britten. But in both the Hardy cycles here - Till Earth Outwears and A Young Man's Exhortation - he poignantly captures the poet's dark, gnarled lyricism, saturated with images of chance, change and mortality.
These moving songs find an ideal advocate in tenor James Gilchrist. His clear, easily produced voice is a pleasure in itself. And he uses it discerningly, balancing pungent, crystal-clear diction with an unerring sensitivity to the flux of Finzi's long, sinuous melodies.
Anna Tilbrook is an eloquent partner, colouring subtly and making her flowing contrapuntal lines sing and glow. Both singer and pianist rise magnificently to the challenges of the greatest songs, which include At a Lunar Eclipse (its timeless, trancelike stillness perfectly caught), the bare, bleak I Look into my Glass and, most powerful of all, In Years Defaced, with its almost unbearable sense of loss.
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