Though the way they have coupled the four works differs, the Leonore Piano Trio have followed the pioneering efforts of the Deakin Piano Trio (on two Meridian discs) in recording Parry’s trios and Piano Quartet. Whereas the Deakin enlisted violist Yuko Inoue for the quartet, the Leonore have called on Rachel Roberts. Robust and engaging as those older readings were, the Meridian discs are now some decades old and lack the sympathetic recording quality of the Hyperion cycle.
The Leonore are also highly sensitive interpreters of repertoire that is often heavily cloaked in a Schumann-Brahms axis—more often than not, the latter influence predominates. The B minor Trio had a troubled early reception, and it wasn’t all that well received critically. Nevertheless it possesses surging power that seems unquestionably impressive, as well as powers of descriptive lyricism that make a distinct impact. The deft, almost limpid writing for the piano in the slow movement is its strongest feature, and the way in which Parry contrasts this with the ensuing dancing scherzo is winning; so too the contrapuntal exchanges and the yearningly earnest B section. The finale, though finely laid out, is rather more conventionally minded.
Even when Parry is intent on big-boned structures that are finely conceived but seem to lack memorability he can spin a surprise, such as he does in the opening movement of the Piano Quartet, where a very beautiful and contrasting slower section—most affectingly phrased by the Leonore players and Roberts—unfolds with eloquence. The near-bucolic nature of the scherzo that follows is full of fancy, playfulness and drive—it’s the work’s high point—whilst the Andante is languid and calm. With a sturdy, confident, very professional finale the work makes a somewhat uneven impression; beautiful moments, and comradely jollity, but also stretches of more standard fare.
That is no reflection on the performers, who are right inside the notes, and are wise and generous interpreters. Jeremy Dibble is the ever authoritative booklet note writer. This makes a fine companion to their recording of the First and Third Trios.