Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb International
March 2019

The Leonore Trio has explored the works of Johann Peter Pixis, Taneyev, Rimsky-Korsakov and Lalo on disc and now their sights are set on the British muse. None of these three works is new to the discography but the Deakin Piano Trio’s traversal on Meridian of the complete Trios came a quarter of a century ago, and further stimulus is afforded to Parry given that 2018 marked the centenary of his death.

All three works are closely tied to Parry’s mentor, the pianist Edward Dannreuther, whose domestic concerts were a strong stimulus to Parry, and who gave early performances of all three works in question. There is no doubt that his concerts and encouragement proved a fertile laboratory for the younger man’s constant experimentation and refinement of material; the works underwent progressive revision, something of a feature of Parry’s compositions.

Both the trios reflect the range of influences on Parry as well as his structural concerns. The E minor trio shows Brahmsian influences, not least on the piano writing, but does suggest the subtlety of nuance and colour that Parry could vest in his music even at this relatively early stage. To me the scherzo starts disconcertingly like a Music Hall number, both brilliant and suave, and oozing ingratiating charm whereas there is an affectionate colloquy in the lyrically attractive slow movement. The finale is the only problem; plenty of syncopation, for sure, but no great sense of identity or profile.

By the time of the Third Trio Parry had written Blest pair of sirens, Judith and the Fourth Symphony. His structural control is far more sophisticated than in No 1, the edifice more confidently handled with unswerving logic in development. Jeremy Dibble, without whom most listeners to—and admirers of—Parry would be hopelessly lost, notes in the booklet that this trio’s Capriccio is ‘delicate’, a word he uses of the ‘Music Hall’ scherzo of No 1; it’s certainly applicable here though also infused with Brahms. The slow movement was originally intended to be a lament but revision saw a modification where rhythm proves a telling and notable feature. Proto-Elgarian vitality ensures the Brahmsian confidence of the finale sweeps all aside; a partial riposte to the less confident handling of the First Trio’s finale.

The third work is the Partita in D minor for violin and piano, a suite of dance movements cast in French Baroque forms—Courante, Sarabande, Bourrées—that manages to encode angular dotted rhythms, expansive lyrical warmth and rather more modern-sounding piano harmonies as well.

The Trio performances are warmer and better recorded than the Meridian ones. Another reason to prefer this disc, in addition to the colour-conscious, energising and subtle playing of Benjamin Nabarro, Gemma Rosefield and Tim Horton, is the fact that the Deakin performance of Trio No 3 had a small cut in the finale.