Hubert Parry’s Obscure-Yet-Worthy Piano Trios

Review by: Jed Distler

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Artistic Quality: 9

Sound Quality: 9

Hubert Parry (1848-1918) may not have written the most original late-Romantic piano trios around, yet one cannot deny his first-rate craftsmanship and ability to wring the most out of his material. In Parry’s E minor trio, the Leonore Piano Trio members dive into the Allegro appassionato’s soaring interval leaps and neo-Brahmsian rhythmic interplay at full force, while giving eloquent voice to the music’s lyrical contrasts. The Molto vivace’s can-can-like outer sections convey similar gusto, while the musicians play the bordering-on-schmaltz Trio with just the right dose of curvaceous affection. The Adagio proves more interesting in the delicate high-lying passages than in the relatively ponderous loud climaxes. However, each player clearly revels in the Allegro giocoso finale’s inventive and sometimes unpredictable piano/strings interplay.

If anything, the G major Trio (unpublished during Parry’s lifetime, but edited by Parry scholar Jeremy Dibble, who also wrote this release’s superb booklet notes) is a more concise and sophisticated work, and the Leonore Trio responds in turn. Violinist Benjamin Nabarro’s vibrato at the start of the second-movement Allegretto is a little fulsome for my taste, yet he and pianist Tim Horton toss the rapid passages back and forth with expert dovetailing and conversational ease.

Filling out the disc is Parry’s D minor Partita for violin and piano, a work rooted in baroque dance forms that might be described as Handel rewritten by Elgar. Nabarro and Horton give a fine performance, and bring special vigor and snap to the frequent dotted-rhythm motives. Kudos to these musicians for continuing to explore the piano trio repertoire’s obscure yet worthy nether regions with their customary care and commitment.



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Recording Details:

Reference Recording: This one

  • PARRY, HUBERT:
    Piano Trio No. 1 in E minor (1877); Piano Trio No. 3 in G major (1890); Partita in D minor for violin & piano (1886)

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