Finzi - James Gilchrist - This Is Oxford

At last! A first solo disc from former New College chorister James Gilchrist. His rare combination of vocal beauty and the intelligence to shade words like few others has been recognised by increasingly starry collaborators (notably Hickox and Gardiner). Oh fair to See (LinnCKD253) collects Finzi songs which, with a lesser artist, could easily meander indistinguishably for 70 minutes. An easy lyrical flow prevails, with little of Britten's genius for the sharply memorable motif or gesture; but Finzi and Gilchrist ensure that the poetry (mainly Hardy) makes all the impact you could want. Pianist Anna Tilbrook is every bit as good - and the disc has a spine-tingling discovery in The Comet at Yell'ham, where the piano wanders in from outer space and returns there, via surprising dislocations and passing dissonances. Stunning recording makes every nuance tell.

This is Oxford
01 November 2005