The Twelve Short Pieces
for violin and piano were composed at the end of October 1894, at the request of Novello, and were dedicated to the composer’s wife Maude (sister of the 13th Earl of Pembroke) and his two daughters, Dorothea (Dolly) and Gwen, with the exception of the first piece, Idyll
, which was dedicated to his good friend Kitty Maxse (formerly Kitty Lushington). The pieces were published in 1895 in three sets, and though there is not much documentary evidence about them, it seems likely they were commissioned to serve violinists of a more limited technical proficiency. Most of these delightful miniatures form neat ternary structures resembling earlier small-scale movements found in works such as the Partita for violin and piano (first peformed 1886) and the Lady Radnor
Suite (1894). Some pieces are decidedly reminiscent of other composers, the Romance
from Set 1 and Capriccio
from Set 2 are successful pastiches of Dvorák, and movements such as the Romance
from Set 2 show an indebtedness to Schumann. Several pieces contain melodic strands that anticipate future works. The opening melody of Envoi
(Set 2) looks forward in a rather restrained manner to the much livelier setting of Rossetti’s ‘My heart is like a singing bird’ (English Lyrics, Set 10, 1909), and the delicate little Preamble
(Set 3) has many turns of phrase that Parry used later in his song ‘On a time the amorous Silvy’ (English Lyrics, Set 7, 1907), especially the amusing switch to the flat side towards the end. Last but not least the charming Lullaby
(Set 1) contains material in its central section that is virtually identical with the same section in the Sarabande
of Parry’s much later English Suite for strings, published posthumously in 1921.
from notes by Jeremy Dibble © 1991
Set 1 No 2: Romance. Andante espressivo 'To Gwen'