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Parry Choral Music from Chandos


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Author Topic: Parry Choral Music from Chandos  (Read 355 times)
Albion
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Henry Hugo Pierson (1815-1873)


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« on: October 04, 2012, 06:40:15 pm »



Is this new disc an unalloyed success? No. Does it enhance our knowledge of Parry as a composer of choral music? Yes. Is it worth purchasing? Emphatically, yes.

To explain the above summary, I must say that it has taken several days of listening to assess the contents of this (admittedly very welcome) new release from Chandos. For me, the two most significant discoveries are the 1911 Coronation Te Deum and the 1897 Magnificat: the former I now consider a very great work indeed, and the latter a fascinating but flawed work. I have to admit that I didn't initially hold out much hope for the the Coronation Te Deum, but it is simply marvellous - imposing choral climaxes as only Parry can build, fascinatingly varied choral textures (including a supremely beautiful unaccompanied Holy, Holy, Holy) and a firm structural grasp which integrates the contrasting sections of the text into an ultimately satisfying whole - this is emphatically not just "occasional" music.

The Magnificat begins with some typical Parryan bustling on the strings which just seems to hang fire until the first choral entry: this is a problem which afflicts sections of several of his larger scores, a business which is simply that and nothing more. Once things get going, however, there is much to admire: two contrasting soprano solos (well taken by Amanda Roocroft despite a suspect high G# in her first outing) and a pastoral central choral movement with a very Bachian solo violin obbligato. Although the final fugue is taken too fast by Jarvi, the piece ends with the type of splendid peroration we expect from Parry in a Three Choirs commission.

I have to own up to the fact that I don't care for The Glories of Our Blood and State at all - dull, sub-Brahmsian gloom quite without the requisite melody that would lift it out of the commonplace, and the inclusion of Jerusalem in Parry's orchestration just proves how thrillingly Elgar re-imagined the piece. The suite from The Birds is a delight (as so much of Parry's unrecorded incidental music will prove to be), but the unison choral song England (despite Boult's advocacy) is inconsequential and justifies the composer's own dismissal of his efforts.

A mixed bag, then, but well worthwhile for The Birds, the Magnificat and (most of all) for the Coronation Te Deum. What we need now are first-class recordings of Prometheus Unbound (1880), L'Allegro ed il Pensieroso (1890), Ode to Music (1901), The Pied Piper of Hamelin (1905) and the large-scale Te Deum (1900/ 1913).

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A piece is worth your attention, and is itself for you praiseworthy, if it makes you feel you have not wasted your time over it. (SG, 1922)

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« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2012, 07:30:36 pm »

My copy is in the post Grin
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« Reply #2 on: October 05, 2012, 06:05:32 am »

I'm thrilled with the disc and have listened to little else in the last three days. When it was announced, it sounded rather dull to me: I don't always care for church music, but this Te Deum and Magnificat are not church music at all, but concert pieces. I really think Neeme Jarvi gives Parry a boost of energy, which I think the composer really benefits from, and I hope he records much more! I agree that "The Glories" is a bit dull, but I actually quite like Parry's less showy orchestration of 'Jerusalem', though of course the Elgar is sumptuous. I think I can enjoy both, as I can enjoy Chopin's funeral march on the piano, as well as arranged by Elgar.
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« Reply #3 on: October 09, 2012, 12:01:17 am »

Can either of you answer this question?

Is this the first time Neeme Jarvi has recorded ANY British music Huh Huh

I can't think of another example Grin
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Albion
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« Reply #4 on: October 09, 2012, 06:31:24 am »

Is this the first time Neeme Jarvi has recorded ANY British music Huh

I can't recall anything.

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Now, here's a curiosity - spot the difference(s)

   

from pictures on Amazon. Perhaps the version on the right reflects a pre-production running-order (without internal tracking for The Glories of Our Blood and State or the Te Deum) - it certainly doesn't tally with the product as advertised directly by Chandos ...

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A piece is worth your attention, and is itself for you praiseworthy, if it makes you feel you have not wasted your time over it. (SG, 1922)
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« Reply #5 on: October 10, 2012, 01:50:29 am »

I also fail to remember any Jarvi-conducted British music. It does give me cause for cheer, though to see that British music is thus starting to seem less "special" and separate. When I first collected music, I found that British music was invariable conducted by certain conductors who specialised in it (the names are pretty obvious), and also it was almost never paired on a record with non-British music, but these days we are starting to see such pairings and then a conductor like Neeme Jarvi taking on Parry. I see it as a sign of hope, as it suggests that British music is no longer seen as "special interest" (ie, a bit recherche and unlikely to appeal to most people), in the same way that, say, vegetarian food is now increasingly eaten by meat eaters and not regarded as eccentric and inedible.

Though we still have prime minister who doesn't know who write "Rule, Britannia". Actually, I'm absolutely sure he does know now!
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« Reply #6 on: October 10, 2012, 02:14:25 am »

I was pretty sure that this was Jarvi's first British disc Smiley

The problem is that he is 75 and in indifferent health Sad

But, we can be sure of one thing....as long as there is life in him he will go on making cds Smiley  He is "obsessional" about that particular activity Grin Grin Grin
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