The hoped-for second volume from Leonore PT of Charles Hubert Hastings Parry’s chamber music has arrived! And it’s every bit as good and rewarding as the first.
Sir Hubert (1848-1918) is once again done proud by the Leonore Piano Trio in his Second such work, a four-movement affair. For convenience Parry could be anointed as the English Brahms. But he has his own manner and rigour, and if the opening of the B-minor Trio comes across as more Schumann than Brahms, then that is also to the good if only to help place him. The expansive opening movement (from Maestoso to Allegro con fuoco) drips with rich expression and deep feelings, driven by an undercurrent of raw emotion, and also with tender withdrawals to an inner sanctum. Such a concentrated range (the movement’s end surprises, no more a spoiler than that) is offset by a song-without-words slow movement, eloquent music transcending any subtext there may be (and here encouraging some attractive/harmonious birdsong residing in East Finchley during recording). All is daylight in the energetic/folksy Scherzo, marked Allegretto vivace, although the musicians persuade with their allegro-plus transcription; spot-on I’d say: play this piece unannounced as an encore and a queue would form at the artists’ green room for further details. To continue ... the Finale’s design is similar to the opening movement – Maestoso-Allegro con moto – Parry’s music holding the attention while incrementally increasing speed seamlessly and thereafter journeying resolutely to a conclusion of accomplishment.
Add Rachel Roberts’s viola for the Piano Quartet, an intense creation, opening darkly and pensively until Allegro molto appears and disperses the clouds, the music determined (again closer to Robert than Johannes) with room to skip forward irresistibility to (another) unexpected conclusion. Parry and his performers agree on the speed of the second movement – Presto – and it does indeed go like the wind, “Mephistophelean”, says booklet-writer Jeremy Dibble, aptly, horses not spared, with leeway for the “waltz” Trio. A hostelry is reached with the Andante, satisfied reflections of a good dinner, a superior brandy in hand, Parry contemplating with affection what Mendelssohn might have done at this point. As for the Finale, we’re back on those horses, Parry’s nineteenth-century Sat Nav fully primed in terms of ultimate destination but also not shy of scenic lyricism.
So, a job exceptionally well done – hats off to Sir Hubert Parry, Leonore members and their guest viola-player, and of course Hyperion – and not forgetting sound-engineer Arne Akselberg, whose demonstration-quality recording invites the listener to be the fourth or fifth member of the ensemble.