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Lo, the full, final sacrifice was Finzi’s first work to be written directly after the war. Commissioned by the Reverend Walter Hussey (well known for his regular commissions of contemporary church music by Britten, Berkeley, Rubbra and others, and vicar of St Matthew’s, Northampton), Finzi’s ‘festival anthem’ was written after Alan Rawsthorne had, for a second time, let down Hussey over the production of his own commission (Banfield, Gerald Finzi, 327). Finzi’s anthem was therefore written at some appreciable short notice, yet this seemed not to inhibit the quickness of his inspiration. The subject matter, at Hussey’s suggestion, was the Eucharist and Finzi drew on English translations of St Thomas Aquinas’ hymns Adoro te and Lauda Sion salvatorem by the seventeenth-century poet and cleric Richard Crashaw. Deeply mystical in tone, Lo, the full, final sacrifice became a substantial conception, exceeding the normal bounds of a typical anthem in its length and treatment. And to match its richer structural design, Finzi’s matrix of musical transformations was also more complex and subtle. Knitted together to create larger homogeneous paragraphs, the shorter episodes provided illuminatory studies of selected lines from Crashaw’s text, accentuated by the composer’s distinctive ability for English speech rhythm and melodic contour; moreover, Finzi’s harnessing of numerous neo-baroque techniques, together with more modern, quasi-instrumental handling of the voices, served to give the larger structure a magnificent sense of elan and textural variety. Though there is a strong sense of through-composition, Finzi also furnishes the listener with powerful points of reference such as the majestic central climax (‘The sovereign subject sits above’), while the profoundly melancholic recapitulation of the lyrical idea used at ‘O dear Memorial of that Death’ in the form of a duet for tenor and bass (using Crashaw’s wonderfully potent and memorable analogy ‘O soft self-wounding Pelican!’) must surely lie among Finzi’s most enduringly moving choral utterances—along with the sonorous closing eight-part ‘Amen’.
from notes by Jeremy Dibble © 2017
|Finzi, Bax & Ireland: Choral Music|
Three English composers responsible for some of the finest choral music of the last century. Finzi’s exquisite ‘Lo, the full, final sacrifice’ lies at the heart of this typically imaginative programme from James O’Donnell and his Westminster Abbey ...» More
|The English Anthem, Vol. 2|
'Spellbinding performances of some of the great classics of the repertoire. Buy this one; you'll enjoy every moment' (Organists' Review)» More