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Parry: Orchestral/ Choral Works (Amanda Roocroft/ BBC National Orchestra of Wales/ Neeme Järvi) (Chandos: CHAN 10740)
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Audio CD, 1 Oct 2012
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With a foreword by the long-standing Parry enthusiast HRH The Prince of Wales, this release features orchestral and choral works spanning the length of Parrys composing life, many of which are recorded here for the first time. Parry is simultaneously one of Britain's best-known and least-known composers. Jerusalem (recorded here in Parrys original orchestration) is almost a national hymn, regularly performed at rugby grounds, schools, Women's Institute meetings, and at the Last Night of the Proms. Yet until very recently few knew much about Sir Charles Hubert H. Parry, who in his day was described by Sir Edward Elgar as the leader of art in this country. In 2010, HRH The Prince of Wales thrust Parry back into the limelight when in the BBC documentary The Prince and the Composer, he set out to discover more about the man behind the music, with the help of members of Parry's family, scholars, and performers. In April 2011, HRH once again placed Parry centre stage, as Jerusalem was performed at the Royal Wedding of his eldest son and daughter-in-law, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Several other pieces on this recording have strong ties to members the Royal Family. The Magnificat of 1897 was dedicated to Queen Victoria on her Diamond Jubilee, and the Te Deum was composed for the Coronation of George V in 1911. The orchestral suite from the incidental music to The Birds features the famous march which was played at the wedding of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and again as the processional march for the Queens arrival at the Royal Wedding in 2011. Also on this disc is England, which was sung at the eightieth birthday concert of Sir Adrian Boult at the Royal Albert Hall in 1969. The works are performed by the BBC National Chorus and Orchestra of Wales, with the soprano Amanda Roocroft, under Neeme Järvi who this year celebrates both his seventy-fifth birthday and an impressive thirty-year-long recording career with Chandos Records.
This is breast-swelling stuff…brimming with pride and confidence.The Chandos sound is excellent. Performance **** Recording ***** --BBC Music Magazine, Christmas'12
Altogether the disc represents one of the most important Parry issues for many years, a credit to all the performers, not least the warmly committed conductor , Neemi Jarvi, drawing the ensemble together. Warm, atmospheric sound too. GRAMPHONE CHOICE. CRITICS CHOICE 2012 --Gramophone, Christmas'12
Jarvi directs performances full of energy that sound entirely idiomatic, the orchestra responds with enthusiasm and the BBC National Chorus of Wales sings its collective heart out in the big moments. --IRR, Dec'12
Top customer reviews
I don't work for Chandos, but if you love British music I guarantee you won't be disappointed.
The two most significant discoveries on this new disc are the 1911 Coronation Te Deum and the 1897 Magnificat: the former can now be heard as one of Parry's most impressive achievements, and the latter as a fascinating but unequal work. I have to admit that I didn't initially hold out much hope for the the Coronation Te Deum, but it is simply marvellous - imposing choral climaxes as only Parry can build, expertly varied choral textures (including a supremely beautiful unaccompanied "Holy, Holy, Holy") and a firm structural grasp which integrates the contrasting sections of the text into an ultimately satisfying whole - this is emphatically not just "occasional" music.
The Magnificat begins with some bustling on the strings which just seems to hang fire until the first choral entry: this is a problem which afflicts sections of several of Parry's larger scores, a business which is simply that and nothing more. Once things get going, however, there is much to admire: two contrasting soprano solos and a pastoral central choral movement of great beauty with a very Bachian solo violin obbligato. Although the final fugue is taken marginally too fast by Järvi, the effect is invigorating and the piece ends with the type of splendid peroration we expect from Parry in a Three Choirs commission. I have to own up to the fact that I didn't care for "The Glories of Our Blood and State" - the vital melody that would lift the piece out of the commonplace seems elusive, and the inclusion of "Jerusalem" in Parry's orchestration just proves how thrillingly Elgar re-imagined the piece. The suite from "The Birds" is a real delight (as so much of Parry's unrecorded incidental music will prove to be when it finds a committed advocate), but the unison choral song "England" (despite Boult's appreciation) is inconsequential and justifies the composer's own dismissal of his efforts.
The performances are very secure under the direction of Järvi, with the Welsh choral and orchestral forces rising fully to the occasion (as they so often did under the late Richard Hickox). Amanda Roocroft proves a sensitive soloist in the Magnificat, suggesting appropriate vulnerability in her first extended solo "Quia respexit humilitatem" and resolute vigour in her second "Fecit potentiam". A slightly mixed bag in terms of chosen repertoire, then, but well worth five stars for "The Birds", the Magnificat and (most of all) for the Coronation Te Deum. What we need now are first-class recordings of several other choral scores, including "Prometheus Unbound" (1880), "L'Allegro ed il Pensieroso" (1890), "Ode to Music" (1901), "The Pied Piper of Hamelin" (1905) and the larger-scale Te Deum (set in Latin, 1900, revised and expanded in English, 1913).
Usually one can rely on good sound from Chandos. but this is not the first time I have found their recordings wanting.
Probably a 9+ out of ten but I do love it!
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