Gerald Finzi – Seven poems of Robert Bridges, Op.17
Martin Bussey – Severn Meadows
Gustav Holst – Psalm 148
Gerald Finzi – Dies Natalis, Op.8
William Smith – tenor
Stuart Orme – baritone
Chester Bach Singers
In its April concert with orchestra, the focus of the Chester Bach Singers 40th Season turns pastoral, particularly to the 20th century composers, Gerald Finzi and Ivor Gurney. Finzi’s Seven Partsongs are acknowledged to be a central work in the repertoire for choirs such as Chester Bach Singers. They are all settings of poems by Robert Bridges, who was Poet Laureate from 1913 to 1930. Although perhaps lesser known these days, Bridges was a key figure in early 20th century poetry, working at the same time as the Georgian poet group which included figures such as Rupert Brooke and Walter de la Mare. Much of Bridges’ poetry set by Finzi has a pastoral feel, reflecting the English landscape. Such images were also key to Finzi’s other work represented tonight, the Tenor Cantata Dies Natalis, setting the 16th century poet Thomas Traherne. This, one of Finzi’s most celebrated works on disc, will be sung by the young tenor William Smith. Finzi’s lyrical style and intuitive setting of text is always attractive to the listener. The concert’s inclusion of Gurney is through his poems, rather than his music, although Martin Bussey’s Severn Meadows is a reflection of both attributes of this still misunderstood casualty of World War I. Gassed, Gurney survived the war, but his mental instability, already evident before the war, was worsened by his experiences. Severn Meadows reflects Gurney’s mental decline through his longing for his native Gloucestershire countryside. Another Gloucestershire native, Gustav Holst completes the programme with his Psalm settings for choir, strings and organ.