Stephen Greenbank
MusicWeb International
July 2019

It was at Edward Dannreuther's semi-private concerts in Orme Square, Bayswater, London, that Parry had his First Piano Trio performed in 1877. The composer was entering a fruitful period when chamber music flowed easily from his pen, earmarked for the Dannreuther series. It was against this backdrop that the Piano Quartet in A flat major was written in 1879.

The Piano Quartet in A flat major marked a high point in the composer's first phase of maturity, with Brahms being a source of inspiration. The opening movement starts darkly and dolefully. It's spacious in its entirety and generous in its thematic material. Jeremy Dibble, the eminent authority on Parry's music who has provided the liner notes, describes the Presto scherzo as Mephistophelian for its demonic boundless energy. The Leonore Piano Trio are joined by Rachel Roberts on the viola, and play with infectious zeal, injecting vim and vigour into the music. The Andante is structured in sonata-form and the song-like material has a Schumannesque flavour. Parry ratchets up the impassioned undercurrents as it progresses, with an ardent coda ending the movement. The finale provides a zestful tour-de-force for the ensemble, and these players certainly don't disappoint.

Parry's four-movement Trio No 2 in B minor was completed in 1884 and is the most substantial of his three piano trios. A stately theme ushers in the first movement, which gradually opens out into a turbulently passionate drama, gushingly romantic. The Leonore Trio put heart and soul into their playing, investing the music with rhythmic energy and fervour. The whole thing has a Brahmsian feel about it. The Lento which follows is lyrically mellifluous, dreamy, rapturous and soothing. The jaunty, animated scherzo is confidently optimistic within a dance-like frame. Its lovely trio section is an outpouring of radiant melody. That stately opening of the first movement is hinted at in the opening of the fourth. Parry draws on themes from other movements in this cyclically drafted finale. I found it the least successful movement as it doesn't appear to have a sense of direction.

Graced with a plush-sounding recording, the Leonore Piano Trio with Rachel Roberts offer incandescent readings which will win over many to these captivating scores.