RECORDINGS
 

Hyperion
CDA68276
released: 28/6/2019

Sir Hubert Parry (1848-1918)
Piano Trio No 2 and Piano Quartet

Leonore Piano Trio with Rachel Roberts (viola)

Piano Trio No 2 in B minor
Piano Quartet in A flat

Hyperion Records

 

Buy (Link to Leonore Website)
Reviews
(Leonore Trio Website

   
July 2019

Classical Source

PARRY: Piano Trio No. 2 in B minor; Piano Quartet in A-flat Major – Rachel Roberts, viola/ Leonore Piano Trio – Hyperion CDA68276, 65:31

Reviewed by Colin Anderson

The hoped-for second volume from Leonore PT of Charles Hubert Hastings Parry’s chamber music has arrived! And it’s every bit as good and rewarding as the first.

Sir Hubert (1848-1918) is once again done proud by the Leonore Piano Trio in his Second such work, a four-movement affair. For convenience Parry could be anointed as the English Brahms. But he has his own manner and rigour, and if the opening of the B-minor Trio comes across as more Schumann than Brahms, then that is also to the good if only to help place him. The expansive opening movement (from Maestoso to Allegro con fuoco) drips with rich expression and deep feelings, driven by an undercurrent of raw emotion, and also with tender withdrawals to an inner sanctum. Such a concentrated range (the movement’s end surprises, no more a spoiler than that) is offset by a song-without-words slow movement, eloquent music transcending any subtext there may be (and here encouraging some attractive/harmonious birdsong residing in East Finchley during recording). All is daylight in the energetic/folksy Scherzo, marked Allegretto vivace, although the musicians persuade with their allegro-plus transcription; spot-on I’d say: play this piece unannounced as an encore and a queue would form at the artists’ green room for further details. To continue ... the Finale’s design is similar to the opening movement – Maestoso-Allegro con moto – Parry’s music holding the attention while incrementally increasing speed seamlessly and thereafter journeying resolutely to a conclusion of accomplishment.

Add Rachel Roberts’s viola for the Piano Quartet, an intense creation, opening darkly and pensively until Allegro molto appears and disperses the clouds, the music determined (again closer to Robert than Johannes) with room to skip forward irresistibility to (another) unexpected conclusion. Parry and his performers agree on the speed of the second movement – Presto – and it does indeed go like the wind, “Mephistophelean”, says booklet-writer Jeremy Dibble, aptly, horses not spared, with leeway for the “waltz” Trio. A hostelry is reached with the Andante, satisfied reflections of a good dinner, a superior brandy in hand, Parry contemplating with affection what Mendelssohn might have done at this point. As for the Finale, we’re back on those horses, Parry’s nineteenth-century Sat Nav fully primed in terms of ultimate destination but also not shy of scenic lyricism.

So, a job exceptionally well done – hats off to Sir Hubert Parry, Leonore members and their guest viola-player, and of course Hyperion – and not forgetting sound-engineer Arne Akselberg, whose demonstration-quality recording invites the listener to be the fourth or fifth member of the ensemble.

   
   
June 2019

GRAMOPHONE
PARRY: Piano Trio No. 2 in B minor; Piano Quartet in A-flat Major – Rachel Roberts, viola/ Leonore Piano Trio – Hyperion CDA68276, 65:31

by Richard Bratby, Gramophone Magazine.

If this magnificent new instalment in the Leonore Trio’s survey of Parry’s chamber music on Hyperion proves one thing, it’s that we shouldn’t take him for granted. You don’t need a musicology PhD to guess that Schumann and Brahms will be important presences in Parry’s musical universe, though you might be a bit surprised to learn from Jeremy Dibble’s excellent booklet notes that Stanford (of all people) considered the Second Piano Trio ‘unintelligible’.

Of course, it isn’t. But what is unexpected is the sheer strength of musical personality that emerges from behind the obvious influences. I can’t think of anything quite like the lowering, overcast chromatic introduction that raises the curtain on the Piano Quartet, the quiet, questioning mood that slowly creeps into the slow movement of the Second Trio or the same work’s utterly delightful folk-flavoured Scherzo. Imagine Schumann in contrapuntal mode suddenly throwing caution to the winds and dancing a Highland fling.

It all leaps off the page in these red blooded and surely unsurpassable performances. The Leonores sound like they’ve lived with and loved these pieces for years: they surf the ebb and flow of Parry’s surging, often tempestuous lyricism with the same grace and style that they bring to the radiant sunset codas that close the first movements of each work. The galloping verve of a movement like the finale of the Piano Quartet can withdraw in an instant into a world of hushed intimacy; the group’s unaffected portamentos and Benjamin Nabarro’s warm, throaty violin tone suit the music beautifully. Even had there been a century-long tradition of recording Parry’s chamber music, I suspect this would still shoot straight to the top of the heap. Lovers of English music needn’t hesitate.

 
June 2019
PARRY: Piano Trio No. 2 in B minor; Piano Quartet in A-flat Major – Rachel Roberts, viola/ Leonore Piano Trio – Hyperion CDA68276, 65:31 (6/28/19) [Distr. by Harmonia mundi/PIAS]

****
Sir Hubert Parry (1848-1918) generally receives credit for impressive choral works, as those he created for the Gloucester Three Choirs Festival. Moreover, Parry’s fruitful association with Edward Dannreuther’s private concerts, 1879-1886, allowed Parry the opportunity to create a powerful oeuvre of chamber works, which include the present Piano Trio No. 2 (1883) and the Piano Quartet (1879).  While Parry certainly establishes his own voice in music, the most immediate obligations lie in Schumann and Brahms, especially the latter’s rich melodic gift coupled with his Classical sense of formal structure.

The B minor Piano Trio No. 2 (1883) opens with a noble, declamatory motto, Maestoso, that leads into a dark and passionate Allegro. The Leonore Trio – Benjamin Nabarro, violin; Gemma Rosefield, cello; and Tim Horton, piano – imbue the rhythmically surging movement (rec. 7-9 June 2018) with an urgency whose figures will link several of the successive movements. The interval of the falling seventh in transitions invests the themes with a restless poignancy, while the various mood swings, passionate and dreamy, gain a sense of romantic poetry. The fiery and expansive movement concludes in B Major, leaving the rich sonority of Nabarro’s violin inscribed in our imagination.

The lyrical slow movement, Lento, allows cellist Gemma Rosefield an extended moment in the sun, soon to be complemented by tender sentiments from the violin, while the keyboard proceeds in small, chromatic steps.  The evolution becomes enraptured, eminently songful, and again most reminiscent of exalted periods in Brahms. The violin and cello indulge in some lovely interplay to conclude the movement, while the keyboard underlines the romance with some strategically placed bass tones. A buoyant dance, the Scherzo – Allegretto vivace – seems to unite elements of Dvorak with an Irish reel.  The motto tune from the opening movement here works as the motive power, which quickly indulges in triple counterpoint a la Bach. The second subject of movement one supplies the tender melody for the trio section. The cello truly basks in the euphony of the moment, with deft figures and runs in the keyboard. The finale- Maestoso – Allegro con moto – employs the cyclical strategy we know from Beethoven, Schumann, and Franck, though the melodic content remains in the Brahms style. The movement proves to be a sonata-rondo in expansive form, dynamically embellished by Horton’s active piano. The violin part expounds in generous melody, albeit shy of the tonic B minor. The harmonies, in fact, become quite circuitous in their sweeping motions, and we must wait for the exalted coda to usher in B Major.

Parry began his audacious Piano Quartet in A-flat Major in 1878, his models derived from the piano quartets of Johannes Brahms.  Parry completed the first draught by 1879 and had his rehearsals at Dannreuther’s studio. The two interior movements, the demonic Scherzo and the Andante, received immediate praise.  Some critics found the passing dissonances rather full of “modernisms” that bore patience and repetition. After a gloomy Lento ma non troppo, the Allegro moves with fluent grandeur, with Rachel Roberts’ viola prominent.  The epic sweep of the momentum clearly resembles Brahms, as does the clever counterpoint. Tim Horton’s keyboard has much to declaim as the movement moves to the quiet final page, each instrument’s coming in slowly, reminiscent of the last movement of the Brahms Piano Quintet.
The second movement Presto has been called “Mephistophelian,” and its Dionysiac fervor has all participants in a flurry. Bits of Schumann kernels flit by, with the strings’ urging a substantive melody that the keyboard intones parlando. But the restless irony of the moment prevails, despite a waltz middle section. The da capo proves even more inflamed than the outset, as if Parry were rejecting Victorian optimism for a mood in tune with 20th Century ethics. A long and lyrical melody marks the Andante, which Horton first introduces but the strings evolve. Horton’s piano provides a dramatic tension quite palpable, rife with pedal points and rhythmic impetus. The strings, moreover, develop the secondary theme to an intense climax.

Tim Oldham’s recording (7-9 June 2018) of the lyrical Andante in sonata-form captures the interior, frequently dissonant, dialogue with penetrating clarity. Two impassioned climaxes occur, to be offset by an ardent, extended, songful coda of romantic and meditative character.  The final Allegro generates real bravura among the participants, eliciting a diatonic, contrapuntal mastery that Parry attributed to his love of the Prelude to Wagner’s Die Meistersinger.  Still, the melodic gift in Parry strides forth luminously, once more in the Classic sonata-form.  The recurrence of earlier motifs testifies to Parry’s cyclic penchant, which embraces the demonic impetus of the earlier Scherzo.  The grand apotheosis of the coda has all four players on a virtuoso course, a rising pinnacle of exquisite, musical self-confidence.

–Gary Lemco
Audiophile Audition, June 13th 2019
 

June 2019

Though the way they have coupled the four works differs, the Leonore Piano Trio have followed the pioneering efforts of the Deakin Piano Trio (on two Meridian discs) in recording Parry’s trios and Piano Quartet. Whereas the Deakin enlisted violist Yuko Inoue for the quartet, the Leonore have called on Rachel Roberts. Robust and engaging as those older readings were, the Meridian discs are now some decades old and lack the sympathetic recording quality of the Hyperion cycle.

The Leonore are also highly sensitive interpreters of repertoire that is often heavily cloaked in a Schumann-Brahms axis—more often than not, the latter influence predominates. The B minor Trio had a troubled early reception, and it wasn’t all that well received critically. Nevertheless it possesses surging power that seems unquestionably impressive, as well as powers of descriptive lyricism that make a distinct impact. The deft, almost limpid writing for the piano in the slow movement is its strongest feature, and the way in which Parry contrasts this with the ensuing dancing scherzo is winning; so too the contrapuntal exchanges and the yearningly earnest B section. The finale, though finely laid out, is rather more conventionally minded.

Even when Parry is intent on big-boned structures that are finely conceived but seem to lack memorability he can spin a surprise, such as he does in the opening movement of the Piano Quartet, where a very beautiful and contrasting slower section—most affectingly phrased by the Leonore players and Roberts—unfolds with eloquence. The near-bucolic nature of the scherzo that follows is full of fancy, playfulness and drive—it’s the work’s high point—whilst the Andante is languid and calm. With a sturdy, confident, very professional finale the work makes a somewhat uneven impression; beautiful moments, and comradely jollity, but also stretches of more standard fare.

That is no reflection on the performers, who are right inside the notes, and are wise and generous interpreters. Jeremy Dibble is the ever authoritative booklet note writer. This makes a fine companion to their recording of the First and Third Trios.

Jonathan Woolf MusicWeb International

   
 

Hyperion
Hyperion CDA68243
release: 1/2/2019
Sir Hubert Parry (1848-1918)
Piano Trios Nos 1 & 3

Leonore Piano Trio

Piano Trio No 1 in E minor
Piano Trio No 3 in G major
Partita in D minor - Benjamin Nabarro (violin), Tim Horton (piano)
 

Buy (Link to Leonore Website)
REVIEW:
 
(Leonore Trio Website)
Brahms, Schumann …it’s been too easy, over the long years of its relative neglect, to reach for obvious comparisons when discussing Parry’s chamber music. We’ve all done it. But listen to the second movement of his First Piano Trio of 1878: piano lightly sketching in its melody, buoyed up by pizzicato cello, while the violin buzzes brilliantly along behind it on needlepoint. Or move on to the Adagio, with the violin orating eloquently above a chiming, free-floating piano. The basic idiom is familiar, for sure, but the imaginative conception is distinctive and wholly original. It doesn’t, in honesty, sound quite like anything else. In short, it’s Parry.

If that fact alone is enough of a recommendation, you’ll be purring with satisfaction at this exemplary new release from the Leonore Piano Trio. Enthusiasm isn’t always enough to prevent recordings of unfamiliar music from sounding raw but these performances feel fully matured – fresh, intelligent and strikingly stylish; edgy when they need to be and opening out generously when Parry’s romantic impulse demands it (as in the second subject of the First Trio’s restless opening Allegro).

It’s certainly never a wallow (Hyperion’s clear, naturally balanced recorded sound helps there too). Phrases are taut and melodies are deftly characterised – giving both the grandeur and the dancelike momentum of a passacaglia to the Lento slow movement of the more loosely structured Second Trio, a movement that Parry conceived as a lament. As a makeweight, violinist Benjamin Nabarro and pianist Tim Horton give a smiling and equally vivid account of the mock-Baroque Partita; an inventive little delight, in the manner of Grieg’s Holberg Suite. Excellent booklet notes from Parryist-in-chief Jeremy Dibble, who seems to be on something of a roll.

Richard Bratby, Gramophone Magazine, January 2019

 

The Leonore Trio launches into this disc of Sir Hubert Parry’s first and third Piano Trios with a dramatic flourish, bringing out the appassionato of the First Trio’s opening. Parry’s Trios don’t get aired very often – the last time was the Deakin Trio’s releases on Meridian in the 1990s – and chamber music isn’t what first comes to mind when one thinks of the English composer.

But these are charming works, given well-deserved – and well-crafted – performances here for Hyperion by violinist Benjamin Nabarro, cellist Gemma Rosefield and pianist Tim Horton. The Molto Vivace of Trio No 1 fizzes with effervescence, while the players bring earnest emotion to the slow movement and motoring intensity to the finale.

Parry’s Third Piano Trio was first performed in 1890 and, written a little over ten years after the First, was his final major piece of chamber music. This Trio forms the heart of the disc and in it we hear a more sophisticated handling of the genre. Following the drama of the first movement, the Capriccio dances beguilingly – it’s a highlight – but the slow movement is compelling. The Lento, originally conceived as a ‘lament’, shifts to a reflective mood, though it’s hardly funereal in the hands of the Leonore Trio, who lean into its lyricism before the joyous Finale.

Nabarro and Horton finish with Parry’s faux-baroque suite, Partita in D Minor, a string of encores to a worthwhile and overdue recording.

Angus McPherson, Limelight Magazine, April 2019

   

   
The Heavens and the Heart:
Choral and Orchestral Music
by James Francis Brown


Benjamin Nabarro (violin), Rachel Roberts (viola), Gemma Rosefield (cello), Catriona Scott (clarinet), The Choir of Royal Holloway, Orchestra Nova & George Vass (conductor)

Trio Concertante
Clarinet Concerto
The Heavens and the Heart
 

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REVIEW:
 
 

The music of James Francis Brown (b1969) is one of Britain’s well-kept secrets. Too well kept for my liking. This new release from Resonus is the first of any of his orchestral works, and what a disc it is! The Trio concertante (2005 06) is a glorious single-movement triple concerto for violin, viola and cello that belongs in the topmost rank of British string-orchestral music. The musical style may be rooted in Vaughan Williams, early Tippett and Britten, yet on closer acquaintance one realises that Brown’s music is truly all his own. A glorious listen, no wonder George Vass chose to perform it in his 60th birthday concert at St John’s Smith Square last year, which is where I first encountered it.

The Clarinet Concerto Lost Lanes – Shadow Groves (2008) is no less evocative, partly of the rural landscape of Norfolk but also as an exploration of the pathways of the mind, of the resonances and historical associations the real landscape calls forth. Admirers of Rubbra’s choral music will, I think, find much to enjoy in the three psalms comprising The Heavens and the Heart (2015 16). Orchestra Nova’s performances are thoroughly committed and winning, proving themselves real partners to the four excellent soloists and splendid Royal Holloway Choir, all playing with a relish matched on the podium by Vass. The sound is terrific, too. A must-buy disc!
Guy Rickards - Amazone Magazine, January 2019


   

Hyperion CDA68207

Johann Peter Pixis (1788-1874)
Piano Trios

Leonore Piano Trio

Piano Trio No 1 in E flat major 'Grand Trio' Op 75
Piano Trio No 3 in B minor Op 95
Trio Concertant No 1[11'09]

released: Jan 2018
 

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REVIEW:

(Leonore Trio Website)

Johann Peter Pixis (1788-1874) is sadly neglected nowadays; with the recent exception of Stephen Hough and Howard Shelley, few musicians have paid any attention to him although in his day he was greatly respected, particularly so in Paris where the Mannheim-born composer resided from 1825 to 1845. His style of composition indicates that his birth-date lay between those of Beethoven and Schubert but some of his fiery fast-moving piano sequences suggest Mendelssohn.

All seven of Pixis’s Piano Trios were composed during his sojourn in Paris and the two examples presented here (respectively from 1825 and 1828) are highly original. The repeat of the four-minute exposition is made in the extensive first movement of the E flat Trio, although the Probst edition does not mark it but the contours of the movement justify the performers’ decision. There is Beethoven-like power here with the piano taking a melodic lead but all credit to the recording engineer David Hinitt for ensuring the strings are boldly audible. The brief Andante con moto is elegant, its cheerfulness surrounding a central section of momentary drama. The score shows the movement ending with a dramatic Adagio culminating in a brilliant piano cadenza but this section is really an introduction to the Finale and it is therefore placed at the start of track three. The main body of the Finale is highly exuberant until a minute's thoughtfulness is succeeded by a brilliant coda. The members of the Leonore Piano Trio rightly concentrate on the inherent optimism for the quieter melodies are too innocent to be sentimentalised and the straightforwardness of the reading makes for an ideal approach.

Antony Hodgson Classical Source January 2018


Toccata Records
CD TOCC0369

David Matthews - Complete Piano Trios

Leonore Piano Trio
Benjamin Nabarro, Gemma Rosefield, Tim Horton

Piano Trio No. 1, Op. 34 (1983)
Piano Trio No. 2, Op. 61 (1993)
Piano Trio No. 3, Op. 97 (2005)

Journeying Songs, Op. 95, for solo cello (2004–8)
Gemma Rosefield, cello
I Con vivacità
II Andante moderato
III Song for Gemma: Andante trasognato – Allegro appassionato


Buy (Link to Leonore Website)
REVIEWS:

(Leonore Trio Website)

"The Leonore Piano Trio have clearly lived with this music; their playing is alert and stylish, unafraid to let me melodies sore. ‘Their performances seem to me definitive’, says Matthews.’
Richard Bratby, Gramophone

‘Lyrical lines are played with a poignancy and delicacy by an ensemble who thoroughly believe in the music.’
Martin Cullingford, Gramophone

‘David Matthews is doubly fortunate. […] on this disc, he has the wonderful, technically impeccable and sensitive Leonore Piano Trio as his performers.’
Gary Higginson, MusicWeb International


Hyperion Records

Taneyev & Rimsky-Korsakov: Piano Trios

Leonore Piano Trio
Benjamin Nabarro, Gemma Rosefield, Tim Horton

Piano Trio in D major Op 22 by Sergei Taneyev
Piano Trio in C minor by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov

Hyperion CD 68159
 
 
Buy (Link to Leonore Website)
REVIEWS:

(Leonore Trio Website)

"Sizzling performance of two late Romantic piano trios"

The thrilling performances of the Leonore Piano make these late Romantic works come alive and Hyperion has provided their usual superb sonics.
Robert Moon, Audiophile Audition April 2017 >>> more

The Leonore Piano Trio – Benjamin Nabarro (violin); Gemma Rosefield (cello) and Tim Horton (piano) are fine interpreters; Nabarro and Rosefield’s duet in the penultimate movement [of the Taneyev] is noteworthy. […] [For the Rimsky-Korsakov,] the Leonore Piano Trio evoke the rainbow colours and myriad shapes, moving quickly from dark and expansive (first movement) to slithers of iridescence (second movement). Horton brings an uneasy sense of trepidation to the third movement, foreshadowing the bittersweet piano solo in the finale. The balance of instruments is excellent throughout.
Claire Jackson, BBC Music Magazine ****

Taneyev, more astute than Tchaikovsky was in finding a balance between the piano and the two string instruments, is also far more resourceful in tonal colouring, in contrapuntal knitting and pitting of parts and in the general sense of creative momentum and coherence. These are qualities that the Leonore harness to terrific effect [...]
Geoffrey Norris, Gramophone

With the British Leonore Piano Trio, [the music] is all about naturalness and spontaneity, partly driven by the driving force of the expressive pianist Tim Horton. [...] The kaleidoscopic mood swings are particularly hard-hitting [...] Intense, and concentrated, [...] the technical finish is flawless.
Aart van der Wal, Opus Klassiek


Hyperion Records
Hyperion CDA68113

Édouard Lalo (1823-1892)

Leonore Piano Trio
Benjamin Nabarro, Gemma Rosefield, Tim Horton

Piano Trio No 1 in C minor Op 7
Piano Trio No 2 in B minor
Piano Trio No 3 in A minor Op 26

   
 
Buy (Link to Leonore Website)
REVIEWS:

(Leonore Trio Website)

...powerful performance by the Leonore Piano Trio. Their huge dynamic range is effortlessly accommodated by the recording.
Andrew McGregor, BBC Radio 3 Record Review
'Disc of the Week'

The suavity of playing is another key factor in lending all three trios the polish and panache that they merit.
Geoffrey Norris, Gramophone

There’s high virtuosity all round—superb light, dazzling backgrounds from Tim Horton, searing intensity of tone from violinist Benjamin Nabarro and cellist Gemma Rosefield [...] it’s terrific stuff.
Jessica Duchen, BBC Music Magazine ****

A remarkable disc of his piano trios by the Leonore, who make a good case of them [...] a real discovery
The Sunday Times

Benjamin Nabarro, Gemma Rosefield and Tim Horton make a very convincing case for this trio of trios
MusicWeb International

The Leonore Piano Trio, with none other than Tim Horton on piano, delivers clean, light performances that respect the music's craft without trying to make of it more than is there.
AllMusic, USA

The Leonore Piano Trio has much to offer in regard to its meticulous observing of Lalo’s wide-ranging dynamics … on balance, this is the finest release with all three Lalo trios in the present and past catalogs
ClassicsToday.com


Hyperion Records
Hyperion CDA68015

Anton Arensky (1861-1906)

Leonore Piano Trio
Benjamin Nabarro, Gemma Rosefield, Tim Horton

Piano Trio No 1 in D minor Op 32
Piano Trio No 2 in F minor Op 73
Vocalise (No 14 of Songs, Op 34)

Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943), arr. Julius Conus (1869-1942)

 
  REVIEWS:
 
 
"the Leonore Trio do much to persuade us to listen anew to Arensky – too often dismissed as a lightweight Tchaikovsky – playing with sumptuous breadth and beguiling warmth in the first trio, and with appropriate seriousness of intent in the altogether graver second. Revelatory playing from Benjamin Nabarro, violin, Gemma Rosefield, cello, and Tim Horton, piano.
The Observer ****