Piano Trio No.1 in e minor
Charles Hubert Hastings Parry (1848-1918) was born in Bournemouth, England. As far as music went, he received some lessons on the piano as youth but did not formally study it. He was educated Eton and Oxford and though he showed an extraordinary aptitude for music, he took a degree in law and modern history as his father wanted him to have a career in commerce. From 1870 to 1877 he worked in the insurance industry, but he continued his musical studies, first with from William Sterndale Bennett, and later with the pianist Edward Dannreuther when Brahms proved to be unavailable. After leaving the insurance industry, Parry became a full-time musician and during the last decades of the 19th century was widely regarded as England’s finest composer. In the 1890s he became director of the Royal College of Music and was appointed Professor of Music at Oxford. He helped establish classical music at the centre of English cultural life. As head of the Royal College of Music, his pupils included Gustav Holst, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Frank Bridge and John Ireland.
His music shows the influence of Bach and Brahms, The respected music critic H.C. Colles, writing in Cobbett’s Cyclopedic Survey of Chamber Music notes that Parry was the first English composer whose development could be traced to the concerted practice of chamber music. Parry’s First Piano Trio was completed in 1878 and performed to acclaim.
The trio shows the hand of a bold and eager mind. The first movement, Allegro appassionato and the Scherzo, molto vivace, display great ingenuity and originality in their handling of form and tonality. Both movements are brimming with attractive, highly appealing melody. The emotional heart of the trio can be found in the third movement, Adagio ma non troppo. Parry’s gift for lyrical composition is of the first order. The finale, Allegro giocoso, is an energetic rondo, full of exhilarating melodies and elan.
Out of print since the end of the First World War, if this work is of the first rank and it had been composed by a German or Austrian it would have entered the concert repertoire. It is well withing the range of amateurs who also sure to enjoy it.