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The six Songs of Farewell give us a glimpse of this private man, who sensed that his own life was drawing to a close; of his seventieth birthday he wrote, ‘I have reached the last milestone’. One feels that the religious impulse can never have been stronger than at this time, and yet these are not conventionally devotional works, although he called them motets. The sentiments and the mode of expression are, in several of the poems, personal rather than spiritual, and only ‘Lord, let me know mine end’ has a traditionally sacred text. Taken together, the Songs of Farewell are Parry’s masterpiece for the choral medium. In them he approached levels of musical expression and sensitivity to textual meaning and inflexion which have rarely been exceeded in English music. All the first performances were directed by Parry’s friend Hugh P Allen, who had succeeded him at the Royal College of Music and who did much to foster interest in his music in the early post-war years.
In terms of scoring and treatment the six pieces fall into three groups. ‘My soul, there is a country’ and ‘I know my soul hath power’ are written for four voices in a predominantly chordal style. ‘Never weather-beaten sail’ and ‘There is an old belief’, for five and six voices respectively, introduce a certain amount of contrapuntal interest. Finally, in ‘At the round earth’s imagined corners’ for seven voices, and ‘Lord, let me know mine end’, for eight, Parry takes full advantage of the flexibility of treatment available with these scorings in his use of contrasting registers, a variety of contrapuntal techniques, and rich choral sonorities.
from notes by John Heighway © 1988
|Parry: Songs of Farewell|
Composed towards the end of Parry’s life, the Songs of Farewell have taken on something of an epithetical interpretation; they are almost a musical summation of his compositional life, reflecting Parry’s love of English renaissance madrigals and p ...» More
|Parry: Sacred Choral Music|
'A fine recital' (Gramophone)» More
|A Song of Farewell|
Continuing Signum’s new partnership with Paul McCreesh and the Gabrieli Consort, their latest release is a recording of the groups renowned a cappella programme of music for mourning and consolation. This is a beautifully poignant programme of Bri ...» More
|All in the April Evening|
'It's a delightful disc … if there was a 'Critics' Fancy' it would be there sure enough' (Gramophone)
'This is a delightfully nostalgic trip through English part-singing from the first half of the 20th century. The programme is deftly chosen and Laudib ...» More
|The English Anthem, Vol. 3|
'A rich feast indeed' (Gramophone)
'This is a lovely programme' (Organists' Review)» More
|The English Anthem, Vol. 6|
'St Paul's is the king of cathedral choirs, and the sound of their singing, with the majesty of the organ in the awesome reverberance of the great bui ...
'Truly heroic performances from the St Paul's Choir which is on top form. A memorable record' (Organists' Review)» More
|The English Anthem, Vol. 7|
'All of the music is of the very highest quality. This disc will offer lasting pleasure and satisfaction to cathedral music enthusiasts and newcomers ...
'Rewarding indeed' (Classic FM Magazine)» More
|The English Anthem, Vol. 8|
'The performances are excellent, as are William McVicker's booklet-notes, and the great echo's presence is felt as friend, not foe' (Gramophone)
'If this is Scott's swan song with the St Paul's Choir, it is a brilliant one. The choral tone and discipline are outstanding … The Hyperion engi ...» More