I haven’t heard a great deal of the music of Gerald Finzi, but what I have heard is always pleasurable, lyrical, and restrained, in the great tradition of the British composers who came to the fore after the Romantic period was winding down. That whole school of composers seems to stand in somewhat of a welcome contrast to the excesses of the full-bore Romantics; their music is generally more introspective than outgoing. Finzi is an interesting composer, who tends to be eclipsed by people like Ralph Vaughan Williams. Part of this is Finzi’s relatively small output, but he labored intensively on his music, and it always shows, at least in what I’ve heard of his.
I’ve chosen Finzi’s Cello Concerto for this post, because the cello is my favorite of the string instruments. Its wide range yields so many musical possibilities, and there are few things in music so beautiful as a cello singing out a lyrical melody set in the middle of its range. The cellos are where a string section gets the richness of its sound. There’s even a kind of nobility in the way the cellist has to hold the instrument, almost enveloping it.
Here’s the Cello Concerto by Gerald Finzi. It was premiered in 1955.