Gerald Finzi: Clarinet Concerto

During the Second World War, Gerald Finzi started work at the Ministry of War Transport.

Prior to that, he had worked tirelessly on everyone’s behalf except his own: he aided the ailing English composer Ivor Gurney; he helped publish a great deal of English folk music, and, last but not least, he became a dedicated apple grower, rescuing a number of rare apple breeds from extinction. His own compositions, though, were sporadic but brilliant (the Five Bagatelles were premiered in the National Gallery, at a wartime concert).

After the war years, he seemed to gain fresh impetus, and it was in this period that he composed his Clarinet Concerto, now probably his best remembered work. It was premiered at the Three Choirs Festival in 1949, taking place that year in Hereford. Sadly, within just a couple of years, he would be told of a fatal illness, and he died in 1956, aged fifty-five. His output, though small, is revered more and more every year.

Recommended Recording

Emma Johnson (clarinet); Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; Charles Groves (conductor). ASV: CDDCA787.
Chart Position