Composition Today

Métier has an on going mission to record the works of English composer Michael Finnissy. Their latest disc is a rather novel addition to this project. Before revisions to ‘Peer Gynt’ that he made for performances in 1892, Grieg sketched 250 bars of a Piano Quintet. He never completed it. In 2007 Finnissy decided to elaborate the unfinished sketch into a one movement Kammersymphonie, sticking entirely within Grieg’s stylistic parameters. To what extent Finnissy has mimicked the Norwegian master is for others more expert than me to say. In a sense, however, this isn’t the point: the result is music of ravishing beauty and, like Anthony Payne’s completion of Elgar’s Symphony No. 3 or Deryck Cooke’s of Symphony No. 10 by Mahler, it stands on its own. Of greater interest, perhaps, to Finnissy aficionados will be the second work on the disk, in which he decided again to take the Quintet as his starting point, this time elaborating it in a much freer manner. The result is a fascinating and highly rewarding meeting of minds, the Grieg gradually and gracefully giving way to Finnissy’s contemporary idiom.

—Christian Morris