The Sunday Times

This is the first of several Finnissy discs planned by Metier and a fair taster of his sound-world and aesthetic outlook. The main item is the second of four “chapters” of an 80-minute piano cycle, Folklore (1994), in which folk sources from all over the world are surveyed, brooded on, and transformed into Finnissy’s own free-floating, endlessly decorative, often eruptive style. This second chapter is dedicated to Tippett and makes use of the spiritual, Deep River, with which he movingly ended his oratorio A Child of Our Time. It is just as hauntingly invoked here, in a languid two-part counterpoint. The music tends to alternate between passages of dauntingly complex polyphony – though, as realised with Finnissy’s amazing precision, these always sound purposeful and clear – and sustained, inflected monodies based on pibroch (Scottish bagpiping) such as bring the chapter to its rapt close. Fourteen other folk-derived piano pieces follow, including the beautiful setting of My Love is Like a Red Red Rose (1990), a couple of Australian Sea Shanties (1983), and the four, lively, Bartok-influenced Polish Dances, Op. 32, begun when Finnissy was nine.

—Paul Driver