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Track(s) taken from CDA67065

Let us garlands bring, Op 18

author of text
Twelfth night (No 1 & 4); Two Gentlemen of Verona (No 2); Cymbeline (No 3); As You Like It (No 5)

Christopher Maltman (baritone), BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Martyn Brabbins (conductor)
Recording details: August 1998
City Halls, Candleriggs, Glasgow, Scotland
Produced by Martin Compton
Engineered by Philip Hobbs
Release date: March 1999
Total duration: 16 minutes 39 seconds

Other recordings available for download

David John Pike (baritone), Isabelle Trüb (piano)


'Maltman captures the almost unbearably poignant feeling of these [Gurney] songs' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Singing of distinction and a programme of remarkable strength. Hyperion is on to a winner here' (Yorkshire Post)
Finzi’s, Let us garlands bring, Op 18, comprises settings of five Shakespearean songs and bears the inscription ‘For Ralph Vaughan Williams on his birthday Oct. 12th 1942’. Performed first in the version for baritone and piano by Robert Irwin and Howard Ferguson on that day at a National Gallery lunchtime concert, the collection’s string arrangement followed in quick succession on 18 October, again with Irwin and the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Clarence Raybould. Most of the songs were recent creations, composed between 1938 and 1942, but the emotional centre of the collection, Fear no more the heat o’ the sun, was written in 1929.

Feste’s second song in Twelfth Night, Come away, come away death, is a powerful lament where Finzi’s attention to salient words—the falling seventh to ‘death’, and the tantalizingly protracted melisma on ‘weep’ are but two fine examples—is exemplary, as is the freedom of the phraseology. There is also a lugubrious intensity in Finzi’s choice deployment of ‘jarring’ dissonance which is skilfully integrated with melodious, yet at times angular vocal lines. Who is Silvia?, from Two Gentlemen of Verona, is a charming ditty in ternary form. For the first three lines of each verse Finzi opts for transparent simplicity in his use of periodic (two-bar) phrases, but in the last two lines (which are effectively fused) this regularity is deftly subverted. Fear no more the heat o’ the sun, from Cymbeline, a meditation on the passing of time, on growing old and the dissipation of life’s fears in death, the great leveller, inspired Finzi to one of his most profound creations. The song, a sophisticated and controlled essay in sustained vocal writing, using the simplest of rhythmic and harmonic means, has a pathos (notably in the final, ethereal stanza) which rivals Dies natalis and the best of his Hardy songs. The remaining two songs of the collection, O Mistress Mine (Twelfth Night) and It was a lover and his lass (As you like it) provide lighter relief. The ‘troubadourish’ (to use Finzi’s own description) O Mistress Mine has a poise made all the more enchanting by the distinctive ‘thrummed’ guitar-like accompaniment and two-part quasi-Baroque dialogue of the upper strings (derived from the same texture in ‘The Rapture’ of Dies natalis). It was a lover and his lass is characterized by a syncopated accompaniment pattern (so much beloved of the composer) which lends the song an invigorating sense of well-being and happiness. Only briefly does a grey cloud appear in the third verse, when, for a moment only, there is a sense of regret (‘How that life was but a flower in springtime’). But this is soon dispelled by the jubilation of the last verse replete with ecstatic coda.

from notes by Jeremy Dibble 1999

Other albums featuring this work

Vaughan Williams, Finzi & Quilter: Whither must I wander? & other songs
Studio Master: SIGCD314Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
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