Classical Music - Gerald Finzi

“If appreciation were a measure of merit and cause for self-esteem, it would long ago have been time for me to shut up shop, class myself as a failure, and turn to something of what the world is pleased to call a more ‘useful’ nature.” So wrote the composer Gerald Finzi in 1941, aged 40, when his promising career looked like it had come off the tracks. The London-born composer had come close to the recognition he deserved when his song cycle Dies Natalis, 13 years in the writing, was chosen to be performed in the prestigious Three Choirs Festival in 1939. But the war started, the festival was cancelled, and it took more than another decade for the composer to achieve recognition. Nowadays his reputation is still growing: Dies Natalis is the first work performed tonight by the Musicians of All Saints in Lewes. It is a piece which showcases Finzi’s talent: in it he sets texts by the 17th century poet Thomas Traherne to music.

Soprano Linda Houghton sings Finzi’s work tonight, one of three pieces performed by Lewes' fine Musicians of All Saints, the others being Haydn’s Symphony no.9 in C major and a work by contemporary composer Ric Graebner. The eclectic mix of choices is typical of the MAS, directed by Andrew Sherwood, who like to mix well-loved classics with more demanding and less famous works. Gerald Finzi, by the way, died in 1956, his reputation assured. AG

Gerald Finzi: if at first you don’t succeed…
All Saints Centre, Friars Walk, Lewes
When? 7.45pm
How Much? £8 (£6 concs £2 children)

Musicians of All Saints
(w) Website

Listen to Dies Natalis
(mp3) Listen
Finzi Trust
(w) Website