Mussorgsky; Rorem; Tchaikovsky Songs
Gerald Finley can do no wrong at present, and this Wigmore Hall Live offering makes a cherishable keepsake of what was evidently a memorable event. Aided by scrupulous support from Julius Drake, Finley lavishes wonderfully rounded treatment upon the sequence of seven Tchaikovsky songs that open proceedings. Be it in the ardent swagger of “Don Juan’s Serenade”, wistful glow of “At the ball” or meltingly lovely “The mild stars shone for us”, Finley is not found wanting. Not only do his top notes ring out with thrilling projection (yet without a hint of hardness), he exhibits a grace, sensitivity and intelligence that ensure that the music never topples into rampant self-pity.
There’s a comparable authority and integrity about these artists’ interpretation of Mussorgsky’s Songs and Dances of Death. Finley is in complete command of his very considerable resources, distilling every ounce of pathos from the mother’s desperate pleadings in the opening “Lullaby” and conveying in full the grim implacability of “The Field-Marshal” . Ned Rorem’s similarly declamatory War Scenes is also performed with total understanding, while the last of the three encores, Wolseley Charles’s wickedly amusing The Green-Eyed Dragon (written in 1926 for Stanley Holloway), predictably brings the house down. A packed auditorium listens in hushed captivation, and Tony Faulkner’s truthful sound and balance convey a palpable sense of occasion. A genuine treat, this, and not to be missed.