Aldo Finzi

Danza, per duo Piano, duo Saxofone et Orchestra (1940), is not only a world première but, until recorded in May 2002, it had actually never even been performed before. After the recording Dmitry Yablonsky said: “Danza is a short piece that has everything. At times Finzi even uses jazz and brass sound in a Strauss-like manner. It has been the greatest pleasure and honour to know and to be able to play and conduct the works of this wonderful composer.”

Come all'ultimo suo ciascuno artista, (as to his utmost every artist does), Symphonic Poem (1942/43). The words “apotheosis of song”- as one would be inclined to define Finzi’s poem - paraphrase what Wagner said about Beethoven’s “Seventh.” In fact, never before has Finzi poured into a work all the treasures of his fervent imagination in a yearning for melody. The general structure is very firm and apt to restrain all possible excesses while the composer knows how to vary his material with consummate art - distributing it evenly throughout the poem. When the slight thread of the “sopracuto” E of the violin solo concludes the piece, one admires in retrospective the path trod. From the first soft theme of the strings and horns within the introductory canto there develops, through the progressive introduction of more and more new instruments, the building to a crescendo within the most sonorous exploits of the full orchestra. Reaching the calmo - one of the loftiest moments of the work with a repeating melody from the violins one can’t easily forget - the variations in the several moments of the development give it a different aspect every time. The mosso, which introduces a theme typical of Finzi, is entrusted to the bassi and has a certain chivalrous character which temperate its aggressiveness. Movements of dance, lastly, become almost a waltz in the sempre meno mosso which flows into a sort of “scherzo.” It is characterized by a chamber-like writing which throws into relief the colours of the harps and of the piano while the lyrical themes often recur like a memory to hold together a richly many-coloured texture. Finally, everything is appeased, little by little, and the initial theme returns in the peaceful and serene finale with another typical trait of Finzi’s - that of concluding his works in pianissimo.  It is almost the image of a desired coming into heaven after so many extraordinary wanderings.

Finzi had given no title to his poem. However, prompted by a competition, his sister Matilde posthumously chose as its motto a line by Dante (Paradise 30, l.33) giving to the world ultimo. This is not the meaning which Dante gives “of utmost limit,” and which Finzi had almost reached - a place beyond which his art could not go - but the temporal meaning of the end of life - the life of her brother who did not live to see his work performed.  ....Gian Paolo Sanzogno.

Interludio, Interlude for piano and orchestra, (1936-37). In this slender production for chamber orchestra by Finzi, who loved the great forms of the opera, the symphonic poem, and the cantata, this short piece stands out with a character of the most absolute originality. From extremely scanty theme material (only two motif’s), the author, by skilfully varying the melodic contours of his ideas, derives a complex and refined web where the “gestures” of an expressionistic nature (the impetuous attack in A minor) find a happy correspondence in the very elaborate and occasionally sophisticated development.  The form is that of the rondo fantastico with the systematic recurring of a whole section or of a part of it. The style is bristling with rhythmic difficulties which create the impression of a sinuous flexibility. The instruments, enriched by the presence of a piano used for timbre and colour, are treated with masterly skill presenting virtuoso aspects which require highly skilled performers. The tempos, which follow one another without solution of continuity, are: con impeto, calmo (whose lyrical theme and one of Finzi’s most felicitous ideas derives from the initial motif with a subtle rhythmic transformation) and tempo I where, in an ideal synthesis, all the preceding thematic cues meet in a crescendo of rare intensity up to the brusque peremptory conclusion.   … Gian Paolo Sanzogno

Berceuse The “piccola” Berceuse for cello and piano draws inspiration from the world of childhood. Composed for the birth of the author’s first-born child, it is a melodious page suffused with tenderness. … Bruno Finzi

Toccata (1930)
. After analyzing a copy of the manuscript of Toccata, Gyorgy Sandòr, the famous Hungarian pianist and a pupil of Bartok’s, wrote: “this work was written at the time when music was overrun by so many radically ‘new’ techniques and innovative styles. Finzi gives the impression that not only did he have full knowledge of them but he succeeded in making use of the best and most expressive of them in order to create a really contemporary piece of music without the excesses of forced atonality that were so much in fashion over a certain period. The piece has ambitious proportions, but the variety of timbre and expression is such as to keep interest alive.” … Simonetta Heger.

Pavana (1920)
How much does Finzi’s sweet Pavana owe to the well-known French examples? The answer is easy: nothing, and this time the thoroughbred eclectic Finzi decidedly avoids Fauré’s and Ravel’s calls to write a very personal page-all steeped in dreamy melancholy. The piano writing is discreet and far from great sonority as well as from sharp transitions. Here the author indulges in a moment of abandonment to the pleasure of making music-a frame of mind that one might call Schubert-like. He appears to enjoy a fine and well-conceived page and is looking forward to offering it to his friends.  By extremely simple means Finzi builds an enchanting page where you don’t know whether to admire more the well-balanced form (a trio ritornello acts as central moment in an airy and inspired gait) or the spontaneous melody of a nimble and elegant phrasing…Gian Paolo Sanzogno.

Liriche per Soprano e Piano, Khibla Gerzmava, Soprano. Catherine Ganelina, Piano.
The Italian chamber romance of the twentieth century was greatly influenced by the opera. Many of those who wrote romances were in fact opera composers with a seeming ability to cause the listener to almost always dimly perceive a stage in the background (with Tosti and Tirindelli as the only valid exceptions). And let us just think, for example, of Leoncavallo’s Mattinata, so that we must practically get to Alfano and to the lyrics on texts by Tagore and to Pizzetti with his I Pastori to find some real autonomy of the genre. Finzi’s approach, on the contrary, possesses a character of absolute originality in transforming a folklore sketch into an authentic concert aria which is fully developed even in the rapid, just outlined sketch, C’era una volta, that lasts only one minute. Here, in the extraordinary Barque d’or, which can be easily compared to the best lieder by Berlioz (Les nuits d’été), Finzi regains a salon atmosphere. However, it is the atmosphere of a literary salon so refined is his identification with the text while the piano seems to evoke the sweet breaking of the wavelets against the sides of the boat.

La voix de Sélisette
shows a profound affinity with Pelléas, maybe also because of the literary analogy (the poet, Maeterlinck, is the same), while keeping a respectful distance from the great model (a more flexuous vocal line) In Serenata the voice evokes sinuous movements as of a slow and sensual dance in the always subtly varied repetitions of the refrain l’amore mio si giace in sogno. Catharine is the quintessence of the pleasure of pleasing and is a charming and graceful little song which hides a whole world of refinement in its spontaneous flowing. … Gian Paolo Sanzogno.  The Rondini, composed in Finzi’s early years, is a youthful lyric that Aldo Finzi dedicated to his aunt, the celebrated soprano of the time, Giuseppina Finzi Magrini. …
Paolo Finzi

The Music of Aldo Finzi (1897-1945)
World Première
Dmitry Yablonsky, Cello & Oxana Yablonskaya, Piano
Khibla Gerzmava, Soprano & Catherine Ganelina, Piano
The Russian State Orchestra, Dmitry Yablonsky, Conductor
Total playing time 64:41
CD BAM 2029


 Danza for 2 Pianos, 2 Saxophones & Orchestra
 Come all'ultimo suo ciascuno artista  Poema Sinfonico
 Interludio for Chamber Orchestra with piano
 Berceuse, Cello & Piano, Dmitry Yablonsky & Oxana Yablonskaya
 Toccata, Pianoforte, Oxana Yablonskaya
 Pavana, Pianoforte Oxana Yablonskaya
 Liriche per Soprano e Piano, Khibla Gerzmava, Soprano

La Voix de Selisette (0:00 - 3:15)  (3:15)
Rondini (3:15 - 5:40)  (2:25)
C'era una Volta (5:40 - 7:10)  (1:30)
Serenata (7:10 - 9:35)  (2:25)
Barque d'or (9:35 - 12:50)  (3:15)
Catharine (12:50 - 15:30)  (2:40)
DDD Digital Recording. Moscow Radio Studio Five,  6/2002
® & © 2002 - 2005 Bel Air Music®. Made in EC. All rights reserved.

(Maurice Maeterlinck)

Quand l’amant sortit (J’entendis sa porte)
Quand l’amant sortit… Elle avait souri.
Mais quand il rentra (J’entendis la lampe)

Mais quand il rentra une autre était là – Ah !
Et j’ai vu la Mort (J’entendis son ame)
Et j’ai vu la Mort Qui l’attend encore – Ah !

(Aldo Finzi)

A mille a mille
gli atomi vagabondi
in un nugolo di polvere dorata,
si discolorano tristemente,
morendo tra i silenzi profondi nel mattino,
come profumo vanente
in una bianca stanzuccia d'ammalata.. .
A mezzo la striscia alitante nel sole passan
le prime rondini a stormi a stormi,
cantando a primavera tornata,
dischiusa a le mimose e a le viole...
Passano innanzi a la finestra velata della tua stanzuccia;
ma tu dormi dormi...

(Arturo Graf)

C’era una volta… Che cosa?
Son come grullo stasera
non mi ricordo ma c’era,
c’era una volta qualcosa.
Oh devi saperlo anche tu
Povera foglia di rosa
C’era una volta qualcosa,
qualcosa che non c’è più..

(H.W. Longfellow) – trad. Finzi

Stelle a notte serena! Di là dai piani azzurri
celate i raggi d’oro!
Ella riposa! L’amore mio si giace in sogno.
Luna a notte serena! Sugli abissi d’occaso
scendi in luce d’argento!
Ella riposa! L’amore si giace in sogno.

Venti a notte serena! Dove sussurrano i rami
piegate l’ali diafane!
Ella riposa! L’amore mio si giace in sogno.

Sogni a notte serena! Ditelo voi ch’io veglio
sul suo riposo candido!
Ella riposa! L’amore mio si giace in sogno.

(Charles Van Lerberghe)

Dans une barque d’Orient
S’en revenaient trois jeunes filles.
Trois jeunes filles d’Orient
S’en revenaient en barque d’or.

Une qui était noire,
Et qui tenait le gouvernail,
Sur ses lèvres aux roses essences,
Nous rapportait d’étranges histoires
Dans le silence. 

Une qui était brune
Et qui tenait la voile en main,
Et dont les pieds étaient ailés,
Nous rapportait des gestes d’ange,
En son immobilité.

Mais une qui était blonde,
Qui dormait à l’avant,
Dont les cheveux tombaient dans l’onde
Comme du soleil levant,
Nous rapportait, sous ses paupières,
La lumière. Ah !

(Aldo Finzi)

Sweet Catharine,
you smile on to me,
so charming are you eyes,
on what may it be?

Bright is the sunshine,
Inviting is the day;
Will you come, my darling,
With me far away?

Catharine, Catharine
On let me for a while
Think you will be ever true.
Let me kiss you sweet heart,
For I love you.