Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Music Webmaster Len Mullenger:

Recorded 1987
Helios CDH55061 [52:52]
   Amazon UK    Amazon US


Parry's nonet dates from 1877 and is for winds (flute, oboe, cor anglais, and two each of clarinets, bassoons and horns). The accepted major works in the repertoire from the 19th century, (i.e. the Serenades by Richard Strauss, Dvorak, and Gounod) all save those of Brahms are predated by the Parry. Though Brahms exerted an enormous influence upon Parry (and Stanford even more so) there are more redolent calls of Schumann and Liszt in his nonet, with Wagner lurking, as ever, in the wings. Parry never heard it played, a pity for it is an effective and interesting piece with colourful instrumental textures and charming melodic inventions, wistful and reflective in its slower moments, bitingly rhythmic in both the scherzo and the final allegro. By way of contrast Stanford's nonet (1905) has the added advantage and variety of string colour (flute, clarinet, bassoon, horn, two violins, viola, cello, and double bass) to relieve what can be a somewhat unrelenting sound without that featherbed. By this stage this experienced composer had completed his sixth symphony and was beginning to make inroads into German concert life with his Requiem. Yet despite Stanford's affinity to the Teutonic style he produced a highly enjoyable work full of translucent textures and fresh invention. It won deserved praise when it was first heard at a Broadwood Concert in January 1906.

Both works are beautifully performed by Capricorn, a group formed in 1973 by the enterprising cellist Timothy Mason (who was also the founder of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment), whose death at 48, four years ago, left a huge gap in the performing life of this country. He is to be heard to good effect in Stanford's nonet, playing a striking phrase in one of the variations of the quasi-Straussian Till Eulenspiegel scherzo. The members of Capricorn (fourteen of them spread over the two works) make a starry cast list of British string and wind players - invidious and unnecessary to single out anyone other than Mason.

Christopher Fifield



Return to Index

Reviews from previous months

You can purchase CDs, tickets and musician's accessories and Save around 22% with these retailers: - The UK's Biggest Video Store Musicians accessories
Click here to visit