Finzi: Cello Concerto, Etc / Hugh, Donoboe, Griffiths, Et Al

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This high-quality production begins with Tim Hugh's lucid, thoughtful, penetrating account of Gerald Finzi's reflective and often elusive Cello concerto. Hugh's measured, noble expressivity gives...
This high-quality production begins with Tim Hugh's lucid, thoughtful, penetrating account of Gerald Finzi's reflective and often elusive Cello concerto. Hugh's measured, noble expressivity gives the unsettled opening movement a powerful sense of line and also real pathos. In contrast, Raphael Wallfisch's 1986 recording for Chandos takes the first movement at a broader pace, but Hugh's urgent arguments seem more alive to dynamic shadings and are more poignantly resigned. Hugh gets more bite and punch into Finzi's "Scotch-Snap" rhythms here, and attains a bleaker, blacker atmosphere than Wallfisch in the coda. Although there are passages where a larger orchestra would have added greater impact, the Northern Sinfonia accompanies Hugh beautifully in the andante, where you'll hear several outstanding contributions from the winds. Hugh's finale, too, generates starker contrasts than Wallfisch's, particularly during the unexpected slow episode part way through, and in the scurrying passagework elsewhere, where soloist and orchestra achieve a chamber-like intimacy.


Peter Donohoe is soloist in Finzi's two works for piano and orchestra, the Eclogue (1929--accompanied by strings alone) and Grand Fantasia and Toccata (1927), both of which were conceived for a piano concerto that never materialized. Donohoe's direct, un-mannered treatment of the Eclogue results in a finely controlled performance that casts ample light on the text without sentimentalizing it. The Nimbus version with Martin Jones and the English String Orchestra under William Boughton is well played too, but the washy acoustic robs the music of inner detailing that registers clearly on the Naxos disc. The Grand Fantasia and Toccata is a demanding virtuoso work inspired by Finzi's love of Bach. What's so compelling about Donohoe's account is that he sees the piece as a kind of neo-Baroque refraction, more closely associated with the 20th century than the 18th. It's a keenly incisive performance; Donohoe's strident accents and penetrating clarity seem ideal, but the loudest passages could still gain from fuller-sounding orchestral support. Phillip Fowke recorded the piece for EMI with Richard Hickox in 1988, but his version hasn't the austere power of Donohoe's. This Naxos release combines performances of impressive stature with pleasingly natural and well-balanced recorded sound. It'll prove hard to beat, especially at budget price.
--Michael Jameson, ClassicsToday.com


Product Description:


  • Release Date: November 01, 2001


  • UPC: 747313576623


  • Catalog Number: 8555766


  • Label: Naxos


  • Number of Discs: 1


  • Period: ""


  • Composer: Gerald Finzi


  • Conductor: Howard Griffiths


  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Northern Sinfonia


  • Performer: Peter Donohoe, Timothy Hugh