The fourth in Finzi’s series of seven part-songs setting poems by Robert Bridges Clear And Gentle Stream! reflects Finzi’s intense love for the English countryside and his acceptance – which he shares with Bridges of of life’s impermanence. I love this song, its almost madrigalian nature, and the way in which Finzi treats the text by giving it the sort of syllabic rhythms that imitate a spontaneous recitation. I’ve heard it said that Finzi recalls late Italian school madrigalists in the way his melodies are so sensitive to and bound up with the texts he’s setting and for the most part I agree but where Finzi differs from, for example, Monteverdi is that it’s fairly rare for him to engage in word painting. This rarity makes what he does at "First the deep bell hums From the minster tower," all the more unexpected and delightful. Enjoy :-).
Gerald Finzi (1901-1956): Clear And Gentle Stream!
Clear and gentle stream! Known and loved so long, That hast heard the song And the idle dream Of my boyish day; While I once again Down thy margin stray, In the selfsame strain Still my voice is spent, With my old lament And my idle dream, Clear and gentle stream!
Many an afternoon Of the summer day Dreaming here I lay; And I know how soon, Idly at its hour, First the deep bell hums From the minster tower, And then evening comes, Creeping up the glade, With her lengthening shade, And the tardy boon Of her brightening moon.
Where my old seat was Here again I sit, Where the long boughs knit Over stream and grass A translucent eaves: Where back eddies play Shipwreck with the leaves, And the proud swans stray, Sailing one by one Out of stream and sun, And the fish lie cool In their chosen pool.
Clear and gentle stream! Ere again I go Where thou dost not flow, Well does it beseem Thee to hear again Once my youthful song, That familiar strain Silent now so long: Be as I content With my old lament And my idle dream, Clear and gentle stream.
Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge, conducted by Christopher Robinson.
If you liked this performance you might enjoy these posts as well:
Gerald Finzi (1901-1956): God is gone up This is the second of Finzi’s three opus 27 anthems, it’s a setting of a text from the Preparatory Meditations by the Puritan poet Edward Taylor (1642–1729) combined with Psalm...