“Finzi began work on his Concerto for small orchestra and solo violin in 1925, dedicating it to Sybil Eaton, a talented young violinist and the object of the 24-year-old composer's unrequited love. He harboured considerable doubts about the opening movement, however, and when Eaton eventually gave the premiere in 1927 under Sargent, the Queen's Hall audience heard only the second and third movements. When Vaughan Williams programmed the concerto the following year, Finzi penned another first movement. Neither he nor the critics found much to please them, though, and the work wasn't heard again in its entirety until the present artists revived it in 1999. The highlight is the central, characteristically rapt Molto sereno that Finzi later recast as his Op 6 Introit. Of the two vigorous flanking movements, the finale leaves the stronger impression, but the concerto thoroughly deserves its new lease of life, and Little and Hickox's sparkling and stylish advocacy will win it many new friends.
There's another first recording in the guise of the song cycle, In Years Defaced. Only one number, the 1928-32 setting of Hardy's 'When I set out for Lyonnesse', was actually orchestrated by Finzi, and, in an effort to place it in a more programme-friendly context, the Finzi Trust commissioned five contemporary composers to choose a song that might benefit from the extra colour an orchestral palette can provide. The resulting sequence is a joy from start to finish. Ainsley is a potent, irreproachably sensitive presence throughout this imaginative and rewarding creation. Again, Hickox and the City of London Sinfonia accompany to the manner born. Lovely, airy sound further enhances the appeal of this disc.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010