> PARRY Decca British Collection [JW]: Classical CD Reviews- July2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Sir Charles Hubert Hastings PARRY (1848-1918)
I was glad (orch. Gordon Jacob), Judith: Long since in Egypt’s plenteous land, Blest pair of Sirens, Jerusalem (orch. Elgar).

Choir of Winchester Cathedral, Waynflete Singers, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra/David Hill
Recorded in Winchester Cathedral, June 1990
Songs of Farewell: 1. My soul, there is a country

Canterbury Cathedral Choir/Allan Wicks
Recorded in Canterbury Cathedral, October 1983
English Lyrics: Bright Star, When comes my Gwen, O mistress mine, Blow, blow, thou winter wind, A Welsh lullaby, When lovers meet again, On a time the amorous Silvy, When we two parted, Love is a bable, Weep you no more, When icicles hang by the wall, Looking backward, Take, o take those lips away, There be none of beauty’s daughters, And yet I lover her till I die, From a city window, Thine eyes still shine for me, Marian, No longer mourn for me, There

Robert Tear (tenor), Philip Ledger (piano)
Recorded in the Church of George the Martyr, London, February 1977
DECCA 470 378-2 [78’05"]


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The core of this Parry offering in the Decca British Music Collection is the Tear/Ledger late 1970s recording of a selection of the English Lyrics. Parry ranged widely in his texts, from Eton contemporaries to Shakespeare via a whole volume dedicated to the poems of Mary Coleridge. The lyrics have maintained something of a peripheral place in the repertoire of English Songs written between 1878 and 1918 and though Tear brings all the expected qualities to them even he can’t entirely absolve Parry of some less than distinguished material. Tear is frequently clarion voiced, with a range of expressive and colouristic devices open to him with which to deepen the songs, if occasionally prone to some strangulated delivery. His diction is clear – making the total absence of lyrics for any items a little less regrettable, but only just – and he is at all times a musically superior musician. The setting of O Mistress mine is an attractively successful one and Tear brings a sturdiness to When we two parted that is characterful and persuasive. Love is a bable is a witty-pretty setting, pastoralism with a cosmopolitan touch. Tear is suitably naughty in Parry’s archly infectious When icicles hang by the wall, complete with owl noises whereas he brings reflective nostalgia to Looking backward, a rather beautiful ballad. Artful, tender and soft is the impression left by Tear and Ledger’s From a city window, one of the best of all these settings and sung with plangency and delicacy. Tear rolls through the lines of Marian with almost avuncular finesse.

The combined choirs of Winchester Cathedral and the Waynflete Singers with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra are conducted by David Hill in the bulk of the other items. I was Glad begins with grand tread, bright trebles, declamatory trumpets, and continues in the same vein. The lines are sensitively shaped, the effect impressive. Long since in Egypt’s plenteous land, from Judith, is better known as Dear Lord and Father of Mankind. Again there is much attention to detail – especially a keen sense of dynamics. In Blest Pair of Sirens there are moments when the choirs are not properly blended, when individual voices obtrude, which is a pity as there is some notably fine string playing and the general impassioned curve of the music is otherwise undeniable.

There are no problems concerning recorded sound. Reverberation in the choral items is well dealt with. Notes are brief but apt.

Jonathan Woolf

See also review by Christopher Howell

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