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Sir Hubert PARRY (1848-1918)
Violin Sonata in D major (1889) [17:28]
Twelve Short Pieces (1894) (Idyll: Allegretto To K.M. [1.44]; Romance: Andante espressivo - To Gwen [2.06]; Romance: Lento espressivo - To Gwen [3.32]; Capriccio: Allegretto - To Dolly [2.35]; Envoi: Andantino - To Dolly [2.11]; Capriccio: Vivace - To Dolly [0.51])
Fantasie Sonata in B major (1878) [14.14]
Twelve Short Pieces (1894): (Envoi: Andantino, quasi allegretto - To Dolly [2.23]; Prelude: Allegro - To Maude [1.19]; Lullaby: Andantino - To Maude [2.45]; Preamble: Allegro - To Gwen [1.43]; Romance: Andante sostenuto - To Maude [2.11]; Capriccio: Vivace - To Gwen [2.54])
Erich Gruenberg (violin); Roger Vignoles (piano)
rec. 2-3 November 1984. DDD


Experience Classicsonline

Parry’s Violin Sonata of 1889 was composed specially for the celebrated concerts that his composition and piano teacher, Dannreuther, was giving at Orme Square in London. It is a very polished work, with a lyrical and romantic first movement, a tender second movement, and a lively and joyful finale, of which Eric Gruenberg and his accompanist Roger Vignoles give an animated performance. Gruenberg has super phrasing, and is technically brilliant, but in this one piece in particular, I found him too reserved. Parry’s music differs from, for example, Brahms, in its English yearning, nostalgia, and wistfulness, but Gruenberg’s version lacks these qualities. He therefore makes the piece sound more out of the mid-European tradition, and is not true to the English roots of the work – he doesn’t bring out of them all that there is to be revealed. As a consequence, the piece lacks a vital quality – and this is particularly true in the slow movement of the violin sonata, which is given a rather impassive performance. We need more passion and more longing!

The Twelve Short Pieces are delightful miniatures that Parry composed in 1894 at Novello’s request, and were probably designed for amateur violin players. They are full of character – some playful and dancing, other evocative and romantic; and some are very much Parry, whilst others are more reminiscent of other composers, such as Dvořák. The Lullaby in particular, is utterly charming, although the performance is perhaps a little too prosaic. The Capriccio, however, that concludes the disc, is most beautifully played. 

Although they were published in three sets, they are here divided into two by the intermission of the Fantasie sonata. This piece shows the influence of Schumann and Liszt in its cyclic construction – yet it is nonetheless a work of great originality and character. Although Dannreuther again gave its premiere at an Orme Square concert, Parry then withdrew the piece. Gruenberg here digs a bit deeper than he did in the Violin Sonata, and the piece receives a good, searching performance. 

This disc presents some wonderful works - music that should be better known. Although Gruenberg is not English enough in his reading of these works, and therefore does not present them in their full glory, he does play very well indeed, and Vignoles is a sympathetic accompanist – although the piano does take a secondary role in this music.

Em Marshall


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