The Sonata in D major
was begun in December 1888 and first peformed at Orme Square on 14 February 1889 (both this Sonata and the later Piano Trio in G of 1890 were specially composed for Dannreuther’s concerts). At this time Parry’s national reputation had only just become firmly established through the success of Blest Pair of Sirens
in 1887. Indeed, during the Sonata’s rather frenetic composition he was also preoccupied with sketches for the Ode to St Cecilia
and the Third Symphony, both commissioned for performance in the summer of 1889. In layout it is far more conventional than the Fantasie Sonata
, conforming to the traditional three-movement scheme. But in terms of structural balance, harmonic and thematic consistency, and instrumental interplay, it is considerably more assured. At once we are aware of the striking rhythmical flexibility of the first movement’s opening theme on the violin, particularly the falling seventh at the end of its first phrase. Also conspicuous is Parry’s mature diatonic style, evident in the closing material of the exposition. The slow movement, in B flat major, is almost entirely lyrical in content. Its long opening theme recalls earlier impressive slow movements in the Cello Sonata (1880) and Second Symphony (1883), while the beautifully constructed second-group melody is one of Parry’s most inspired thematic inventions. The brilliant finale, revealing Parry in a delicate mood, appears from Parry’s diaries to have been written first. In February 1894, when the Sonata was subject to revision, this movement remained virtually untouched. However, the first movement, which contains perhaps the most interesting and thoroughly integrated material, was obviously the cause of some uneasiness since he devoted nearly all his revision time to its perfection.
from notes by Jeremy Dibble © 1991