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Magnificat, Op 36

SSAATTBB + organ; written for Iva Dee Hiatt and Robert Beckwith and the Choirs of Smith and Amherst Colleges, Massachusetts, Christmas 1952
author of text
Luke 1: 46-55

Shortly after the publication of Let us now praise famous men in 1952, Finzi received a commission from Iva Dee Hiatt of Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts, for a setting of the Magnificat to be sung at the choir’s Christmas Vespers. Here Finzi’s deference to the baroque is realized in a concerto form where the seminal opening line of the text (‘My soul doth magnify’) recurs throughout the structure as a ritornello. But, like Lo, the full, final sacrifice, Finzi also includes distinctive secondary lyrical material in the guise of ‘For he hath regarded: the lowliness of his handmaiden’ which returns with commensurate poignancy (‘And his mercy is on them that fear him’). This, together with Mary’s exclamation, serves to punctuate the through-composed structure. In the moving final ‘Amen’, Finzi clearly looked back to the closing bars of Lo, the full, final sacrifice in their Bachian majesty and diatonic transparency; yet one also senses too that he was, perhaps, also paying tribute, however unconsciously, to Vaughan Williams’s Symphony No 5, for not only is the key (D major) the same, but the heartrending, yearning, richly contrapuntal texture seems to recall those resplendent, numinous concluding pages of the symphony’s finale.

from notes by Jeremy Dibble © 2017


Finzi, Bax & Ireland: Choral Music
Studio Master: CDA68167Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available


Track 6 on CDA68167 [10'25]

Track-specific metadata for CDA68167 track 6

Recording date
26 February 2016
Recording venue
Westminster Abbey, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Adrian Peacock
Recording engineer
David Hinitt
Hyperion usage
  1. Finzi, Bax & Ireland: Choral Music (CDA68167)
    Disc 1 Track 6
    Release date: February 2017
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