Monday, 25 October 2010

Hubert Parry: A review of the English Suite for Strings written by Marion Scott

One of my favourite works by Parry is the gorgeous English Suite in G major which was composed during July 1914. However, the work was not put into its present form by the composer, but by Dr. Emily Daymond (1866-1949). Daymond was a teacher, lecturer, pianist, composer, conductor, authority on Troubadour music. In 1901, she became the first woman in Britain to gain a doctorate in music at Oxford University, however she had to wait twenty years for Oxford to allow women to hold the degrees they had earned.
An excellent recording of this piece is available on Lyrita

New Suite for Strings by Parry
LONDON, England—The orchestral concert at The Royal College of Music on June 4 was marked by the first performance, from manuscript, of a Suite for Strings No. 2, in G minor, by Sir Hubert Parry.
The suite, which is in six movements, forms a valuable addition to concert goers’ knowledge of Parry and to the string orchestra repertoire. It is paramountly English, as English as a Shakespearean comedy or a Herrick poem, and the stately prelude and sarabande, the delicious quasi menuetto, the pastoral with its touching yet happy charm, the expressive intermezzo and lively finale might well stand as incidental music to “Twelfth Night” or “As You Like It.”
The suite, however, was not written with any view to the theater or “program music,” but was designed for one of his most brilliant pupils, Dr. Daymond, who amongst other musical avocations, conducted a string orchestra. A footnote by her says that “The composer completed all the movements of this suite, but did not indicate the order in which they were to be played.” This may have been due to the fact that he composed it at intervals over a number of years and never seemed able to find the finale he wanted, though the movement which now stands in that place serves the purpose admirably.
The lovely pastoral is a movement he wrote and never even showed to anyone for over 20 years. With this knowledge in one’s possession, one cannot but be amazed on listening to the suite, at the homogeneity of the whole thing. Another point that strikes one in the suite is the strong ease, almost Handelian, with which Parry could deal with a string orchestra. He evoked rich, pure-toned masses of sound, or a singing and sympathetic quality from the instruments in combination as naturally as he wrote vital contrapuntally moving parts for each. There is never any stuffing in a score of his.
The suite was played con amore by the college orchestra (many of whom had been under Sir Hubert as students) and was conducted by Dr.—now Sir Hugh-Allen, director of the Royal College of Music.

Marion M. Scott, July 17, 1920, The Christian Science Monitor

With thanks to Pamela Blevins, who is the authority on Marion M Scott.

1 comment:

Peter Elsdon said...

I did not know this work,however I have just heard a track on the lovely Irish station Lyric fm.The movement I heard was Frolic which I found quite delightful.