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Sir Hubert PARRY (1848-1918)
Overture to an Unwritten Tragedya (1893) [10’25]. An English Suite in Ga (c1921) [20’57]. The Birds (1883) – Bridal Marchb [5’21]. Lady Radnor’s Suite in Fa (1894) [13’25]. Symphonic Variationsa (1897) [12’53].
aLondon Symphony Orchestra, bLondon Philharmonic Orchestra/Sir Adrian Boult.
No rec. info. ADD
All works except for the Bridal March recorded in association with The RVW Trust.


Surely there has been no greater interpreter of Parry’s music than Sir Adrian Boult? In Boult’s hands, the music emerges as finely sculpted and, perhaps even more important, as truly great music.

This is immediately evident in the performance of the Overture to an Unwritten Tragedy, Parry’s very first published work. Allegedly the tragedy in question was actually Shakespeare’s Othello, with the long-breathed melodies representing the heroine Desdemona. It is given a dramatic performance here by the LSO under Sir Adrian.

An English Suite is gentle in the extreme. It is a well-crafted sequence of dances performed here with the utmost delicacy and care (try especially the second, ‘In Minuet Style’, as the perfect example of this). The Saraband is possibly more explosive than may be expected, yet it contrasts well with the light ‘Caprice’ that follows. Predating An English Suite is another work for strings, Lady Radnor’s Suite. Superbly crafted and understated in emotion, its highlight is the Slow Minuet, here given as rapt a performance as is imaginable by Boult and the LSO.

Parry wrote the incidental music to the Aristophanes play The Birds in 1883. The bride in the play is welcomed by a Chorus of Birds (here the Trio section). The main body of the movement is dominated by a characteristic melody that speaks of lofty dignity (it might as well have been marked ‘nobilmente’).

Finally, the Symphonic Variations, is one of Parry’s better known works. There is a Brahmsian influence at work in this single-movement work (the variations may be subdivided into five sections but run together as one – Parry used the word ‘Symphonic’ in the title to emphasise the high degree of continuity). Boult gives a multi-faceted reading that is attentive to the score’s every need. Textures are miraculously elucidated and Parry’s imagination is shown in the best possible light. It is, in fact, amazing just how large Parry’s canvas seems when one considers the total duration is only just under thirteen minutes.

The recording quality throughout is superb. Its warmth is particularly appealing and, indeed, apposite.

Colin Clarke

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