Hubert Hastings PARRY (1848-1918)
Symphony No. 5 in B minor (1914) [23:07] Blest Pair of Sirens (1887) [10:55]
Symphonic Variations (1897) [13:18] Elegy for Brahms (1897) [10:23]
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Adrian Boult
rec. No. 1 Studio, Abbey Road, London, 4, 9, 19 October,
20 December 1978; 21-23 December 1966 (Blest). ADD EMI CLASSICS
some mysteries about the decisions of record companies. Why
this was issued by EMI in early batches from their British
Composers series and then allowed to slip into deletion hell
we shall never know. Much the same question arises with the
same company and series in relation to Arthur Bliss's Morning
Heroes recorded by Charles Groves with the RLPO and RLP Chorus
(CDM 7 63906 2). Perhaps Arkiv will secure the license
to issue the Bliss as well?
event the present disc, largely recorded at one of Boult's
final sessions now appears courtesy of Arkiv's on-demand
service. It's handsomely done by Arkiv and the booklet in
quality is now indistinguishable from the original disc except
for the Arkiv logo on the back.
the music, Parry is much more than a museum piece or a pawn
on the chess board of music history. The language moves between
Brahms and Schumann, leaning more toward Brahms. You can
hear that from the very start of the Fifth Symphony in
which Boult, even at his then advanced age, catches all the
conflagration that blazes through Parry's equally fiery First
Symphony. The Fifth Symphony is however more concise than
his earliest symphony and runs to four tersely-titled movements: Stress, Love, Play, Now.
These titles are in themselves fascinating - noting the change
from states of existence to a temporal statement (Now)
in which the emotional state can only be extracted from listening
to the music. This is warmly Brahmsian in the manner of the
Second and Fourth symphonies with a Viennese Schubertian
lilt in the Play movement. The finale is the longest
at 7:40. The start of the Play movement is redolent
of Elgar's Enigma. This movement has a touch of Nobilmente as
well as of early Straussian exuberance.
years earlier came Parry's Blest Pair of Sirens set
to Milton's poem At a Solemn Music. It here receives
a golden sunburst of a performance and recording notable
for the tonal weight of the choir even if sung unanimity
is not always perfect. This recording was made in 1966.
Variations are sturdy but take a while in this
performance to catch the heavenly fire to defeat the
academic surface of most sets of variations. Parry's
magnificent way with the striding horns can be heard
at 2:12. How good it would be to hear these Variations
alongside the similarly grand Elegiac Variations by
Thomas Dunhill. Michael Pope in his fine liner-note
tells us that Parry regarded Brahms as the greatest artist
of the time. Parry's overture-length Elegy for
Brahms in fact had to wait until 1918 for its
premiere. At that stage it had been revised by Stanford
who conducted the work at the Parry Memorial Concert
at the RCM on 8 November 1918. Boult makes this Elegy
shine in a golden aureole which celebrates Brahms rather
than laments him.
Parry was clearly something special and Parry's music drew
grand things from Boult even into old age. A golden anthology
well worth the outlay alongside Nimbus's recording of the
First Symphony (Boughton – a magnificently alive version),
Boult's Lyrita collection and Bamert's Chandos Parry cycle.
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