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Hyperion Records

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Macbeth and the Witches by Henry Fuseli (1741-1825)
The National Trust, Petworth House, Sussex
Track(s) taken from CDH55088
Recording details: June 1991
St Margaret's Church, Ilkley, Yorkshire, United Kingdom
Release date: November 1991
Total duration: 10 minutes 48 seconds

Overture to an Unwritten Tragedy
composer

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Hubert Parry (1848-1918) had not only studied at the RAM with Sterndale Bennett and Macfarren, but had spent one of his Cambridge long vacations in Stuttgart taking lessons from Pierson. He produced an Overture in A, ‘to an Unwritten Tragedy’, and at its first performance Elgar was obliged to earn his livelihood among the first violins. The juxtaposition of the words ‘overture’ and ‘tragedy’ inevitably recall Brahms, whose current influence on British music was a logical extension of that of Mendelssohn.

Parry was later to write the article on Brahms in Grove’s Dictionary where he defended the very position he himself appears to adopt in this work: ‘He seems to have set himself to prove that the old principles of form are still capable of serving as the basis of works which should be thoroughly original both in general character and in detail of development without … falling back on the device of programme’. Despite the conservative cast of the music and general sobriety of orchestration, the overture has a distinctive noble dignity. The surprisingly prevalent use of the major mode to depict tragedy has a classical precedent in Gluck, and it is this feature that contributes most to its essentially British character.

from notes by Hugh Priory © 1991

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