Finzi himself was dissatisfied with the Seven poems of Robert Bridges
, as a letter to his friend Robin Milford shows. One difficulty here is that Bridges was almost exclusively a poet of the first person singular, so that setting his lyric poems chorally requires a composer to preserve the sense of a single composite voice. Finzi’s scrupulous respect for text shows in his limiting the imitative divergences whereby textures can be enlivened and pacing regulated—but words potentially obfuscated. Since songs one to six are all in a major key, and the seventh ambivalently poised between minor and major, it cannot be said that Finzi made things easier for himself. However, each of these sensitive, melodically disarming miniatures is attractive in itself, and the third of them lastingly popular, while in the sixth, ‘Haste on’ evokes from Finzi an apt canonic rhythm whereby the upper voices seem to be perpetually nudging the lower ones along. The only true problem here lies in programming the group in toto
rather than individually; and therefore their perfect collective context is arguably a recording, not a live concert.
from notes by Francis Pott © 2019