Gerald Finzi’s Elegy for Orchestra, Op. 20, The Fall of the Leaf, is music of the English landscape. It evokes the timelessness of serene pastures and meandering hedgerows. Beyond its lush beauty exists a lingering melancholy and nostalgia. Unsettling twilight shadows pervade this music. We encounter something similar in much of the music of Ralph Vaughan Williams, who shared friendship and frequent correspondence with Finzi (1901-1956), and throughout the works of Edward Elgar.
Finzi sketched this music between 1926 and 1929. Initially, it was to have formed the third movement of a symphonic suite, The Bud, the Blossom and the Berry, which never materialized. The title, The Fall of the Leaf, was a reference to a brief keyboard work by the English Renaissance composer, Martin Peerson. At the time of Finzi’s untimely death at the age of 55, “only 64 of its 158 bars were fully orchestrated, 56 had some indications of scoring and 38 were blank.” (Michael Kennedy) The score was completed by Finzi’s friend, Howard Ferguson in 1957.
This 2006 recording features the Hallé Orchestra, led by Sir Mark Elder:
- Finzi: Elegy for Orchestra, Op. 20 – “The Fall of the Leaf,” Mark Elder, Hallé Orchestra Amazon
Featured Image: “Landscape with Haystacks” (1886), George Turner