PARRY Piano Trios Nos 1 & 3
Brahms, Schumann …it’s been too easy, over the long years of its relative neglect, to reach for obvious comparisons when discussing Parry’s chamber music. We’ve all done it. But listen to the second movement of his First Piano Trio of 1878: piano lightly sketching in its melody, buoyed up by pizzicato cello, while the violin buzzes brilliantly along behind it on needlepoint. Or move on to the Adagio, with the violin orating eloquently above a chiming, free-floating piano. The basic idiom is familiar, for sure, but the imaginative conception is distinctive and wholly original. It doesn’t, in honesty, sound quite like anything else. In short, it’s Parry.
If that fact alone is enough of a recommendation, you’ll be purring with satisfaction at this exemplary new release from the Leonore Piano Trio. Enthusiasm isn’t always enough to prevent recordings of unfamiliar music from sounding raw but these performances feel fully matured – fresh, intelligent and strikingly stylish; edgy when they need to be and opening out generously when Parry’s romantic impulse demands it (as in the second subject of the First Trio’s restless opening Allegro).
It’s certainly never a wallow (Hyperion’s clear, naturally balanced recorded sound helps there too). Phrases are taut and melodies are deftly characterised – giving both the grandeur and the dancelike momentum of a passacaglia to the Lento slow movement of the more loosely structured Second Trio, a movement that Parry conceived as a lament. As a makeweight, violinist Benjamin Nabarro and pianist Tim Horton give a smiling and equally vivid account of the mock-Baroque Partita; an inventive little delight, in the manner of Grieg’s Holberg Suite. Excellent booklet notes from Parryist-in-chief Jeremy Dibble, who seems to be on something of a roll.