Sir Charles Hubert Hastings PARRY (1848-1918)
A Parry Collection
Toccata and Fugue in G (The Wanderer) (1912) [13:32]
Rockingham, Set 1, No. 2 (1912) [2:15]
St. Cross, Set 2, No 6 (1916) [5:01]
St. Ann’s, Set 1 No 7 (1912) [4:43]
Chorale Fantasia on O God our help (1915) [5:06]
Elegy (for April 7, 1913) [4:14]
Chorale Fantasia on The Old Hundredth (1915) [7:06]
Melcombe, Set 1, No 5 (1912) [2:53]
Dundee, Set 1, No 1 (1912) [3:02]
Martyrdom, Set 2, No 2 (1916) [3:27]
Hanover , Set 2, No 7 (1916) [4:42]
Chorale Fantasia on an Old English Tune, When I survey the wondrous cross (1915) [4:18]
Fantasia and Fugue in G major (1913) [9:57]
David Goode (organ)
rec. 5-6 September 2010, Hill Organ of Eton College Chapel. DDD
REGENT REGCD365 [70:19]
Though too rarely encountered in our concert halls, Parry’s choral and orchestral music has not been badly served by the recording companies over the years, most notably in the fine series of discs made by Matthias Bamert for Chandos, though it is now quite some years since those appeared. Parry’s music in other genres has been somewhat less well represented though this situation is improving gradually: only recently I’ve welcomed excellent new recordings of a couple of chamber works (review) and of a selection of his solo songs (review). Now David Goode offers us a pretty generous collection of Parry’s organ music.
In his excellent notes David Gammie tells us that although Parry had a lifelong love of the organ, which he played from childhood days, he only wrote any significant solo organ works in the last few years of his life. It’s very fitting that these new recordings should have been made at Eton College for Parry went to school at Eton and studied the organ while he was a pupil there. However, any hopes I had that he might have played on this very organ were snuffed out when I read in the booklet that the Hill organ in the College Chapel was built in 1885, long after Parry’s schooldays. The instrument has been rebuilt and refurbished more than once since 1885 and it sounds splendid on this disc. Its sound has been expertly captured by producer/engineer Gary Cole.
As can be seen from the track-listing the works assembled here were composed in a fairly short space of time, between 1912 and 1916. Actually, I’m not sure that’s quite correct in one respect. The Fantasia and Fugue in G originated in 1877 but both elements were later completely rewritten. The booklet suggests that this happened in 1912 but the list of works included in Jeremy Dibble’s magisterial biography of Parry states that this applied only to the Fugue and that the Fantasia was recomposed as early as 1882. I read that only after listening to the disc and, to be quite honest, I would not have guessed that thirty years separate these two elements: stylistically they seem very well matched. This is Parry’s best-known organ work and I’m not surprised: the Fantasia is majestic while the Fugue is expertly worked out, energetic and resourceful. David Goode gives a magnificent performance to conclude his recital triumphantly.
Before that there’s been much else to admire and enjoy. The opening Toccata and Fugue, composed in 1912 but published posthumously in 1920, was named by Parry after his yacht on which he so much enjoyed to sail. The Toccata sounds strangely unsettled and ‘wandering’; it’s very interesting. The Fugue unfolds spaciously and steadily, achieving genuine grandeur in the last few pages. In this excellent performance it sounds perfectly splendid, especially in the closing moments when I suspect Goode deploys the organ’s 32-foot pedal stop to thrilling effect.
As David Gammie points out, Parry’s organ music is indebted above all to the German school stretching back to Bach and beyond - one can guess that, perhaps, by a cursory glance at the titles of the pieces. He wrote two sets of Chorale Preludes - seven pieces in each set - of which a good selection is offered here. These short pieces are all impressive, including a subdued and meditative prelude on St. Cross and, from the same set, an excellent and extrovert prelude on Hanover in which the tune is brilliantly decorated. I like the gently lilting prelude on Melcombe from Set 1 and its companion, a prelude on St. Ann is energetic and, at the end, rather regal.
That same tune, St Ann, is the foundation for one of three Chorale Fantasias that Parry wrote in 1915. Though the piece is no longer than the corresponding Chorale Prelude it’s more elaborate - and grander. It was intelligent planning to place the two pieces in succession on the programme. The fantasia on The Old Hundredth lasts only about seven minutes but it’s an ambitious composition on quite a large scale. The fantasia on the tune Eltham, which Parry associated with the hymn When I survey the wondrous cross, is a thoughtful, gentle affair. It so impressed Gerald Finzi that he arranged it for string orchestra.
The remaining work on the programme is a little Elegy which Parry wrote for the funeral of his brother-in-law in 1913. It’s a restrained, patrician processional and I liked it very much.
This programme doesn’t quite give us all Parry’s output for organ. There are seven more Choral preludes and Jeremy Dibble also lists an unpublished Four-part Fugue in G, dating from 1865. However, this is a pretty broad survey of Parry’s compositions for organ which while fairly limited in number constitute an impressive set of works. David Goode is a splendid advocate for this music, which he plays with real skill, as one would expect, and great conviction. As I’ve already indicated, the sound and the documentation are first-class. Parry has been exceptionally well served through this release.
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