Charles Hubert Hastings PARRY (1848-1918)
Symphony No. 1 in G (1882) [45:22]
From Death to Life (1914) [18:34]
English Symphony Orchestra/William Boughton
rec. Great Hall, Birmingham University, 26-27 January 1991
world première recording of the symphony
NIMBUS NI 5296 [70:33]
Here are two works from the extremes of Parry’s career. The symphony was written when he was 34 and From Death to Life (also subtitled Mors et Vitae) appeared in the first year of the Great War within four years of the end of the conflict and the end of Parry’s life.
Parry’s First Symphony is a tautly constructed large-scale symphony written for Hans Richter. It is the work of a young man and evinces the broad bow-waved mastery and ebullience of youth. Schumann was, on this evidence, Parry’s hero and object of adoration. The Andante is lissom, smooth and calms the savage breast. The Scherzo skims and sprints along, full of the constant dialoguing mediation of youthful confidence and stormy power. It’s a commanding performance of a work the grandeur of which has not slowed its winged mercurial heels. It’s well worth hearing.
From Death to Life – “Symphonic Poem in two connected movements” is in a single track of two episodes: Via Mortis and Via Vitae. Written for the Brighton Festival of 1914 and as a response to the Great War it is by no means the work of a patriotic braggart. This is Parry the philosopher getting to grips with death and tragedy. The music is impressively Brahmsian and broods in remarkable intensity developing a nobilmente gait in the Via Vitae. Consolation is threaded through the music so this is not entirely a work in the same territory as Brahms’ Tragic Overture.
The notes are distinguished and read very well. They are by Parry authority Jeremy Dibble.
There was to be no Parry series from Nimbus although some of the lighter string pieces are to be found in its catalogue. The Parry symphonic challenge was met head on by Mathias Bamert, the LPO and Chandos. In fact that company recorded the First Symphony [42:39] with the Concertstück in 1991-92 and issued them on CHAN9062. Bamert had on 5-6 January 1991 recorded From Death to Life [16:34], Symphony No. 5 and the Brahms Elegy and these were issued on CHAN 8955.
Heartfelt and inspiring music eloquently put across.

Rob Barnett
Eloquent and broadly paced readings of works from the extremes of Parry’s career.