Parry: From a city window

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COMPOSERS: Hubert Parry
LABELS: Delphian
ALBUM TITLE: Parry: From a city window
WORKS: Good-night; To Lucasta on Going to the Wars; Sleep; Where Shall the Lover Rest; and other songs
PERFORMER: Allish Tynan (soprano), Susan Bickley (mezzo-soprano), William Dazeley (baritone), Iain Burnside (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: DCD34117

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Edwardian-era British songs often evoked sneers like that of Ernest Newman about continentals singing exquisite Hugo Wolf while unenlightened Brits bellowed Stanford’s The Old Superb. That’s not the whole story, though. Parry had a gift for intimate forms, and the best of his songs can stand comparison with European repertoire.

In early appealing songs, such as Good-night and Willow, Willow, Willow he hinders himself by setting major poets such as Shelley and Shakespeare, who gain little from the music. A slightly lesser master, Scott, comes over very well in Where Shall the Lover Rest (as does Ailish Tynan’s appropriately Celtic spirit). Parry’s fluent style is a touch restrained for the swashbuckling Cavalier poet Lovelace. But there’s real matter in the more contemporary alienation of From a City Window, finely sung by Susan Bickley, and Parry’s own bleak, yearning text What Part of Dread Eternity, in William Dazeley’s sturdy delivery. Superb singing combines with Iain Burnside’s eloquent handling of Parry’s piano textures.

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Michael Scott Rohan