For Sir Hubert Parry, who had always revered German music and culture, the First World War was deeply depressing; it was, in the words of Herbert Howells, ‘a scourge that cast a devastating shadow over Parry’s mind and heart.’ He sensed that he was close to death: as he wrote on his 70th birthday, ‘I have reached the last milestone’, and he did in fact die in 1918. This is the context for his introspective Songs of Farewell, composed between 1916 and 1918. Parry himself labelled them motets, but only the last of the six songs has a traditional sacred text (Psalm 39); the rest are more personal than strictly devotional. Through the set Parry gradually expands his forces from four voices to eight, and with this expansion comes greater textural variety. This publication features the first four: the opening two movements, My soul, there is a country, and I know my soul hath power to know all things, are both in four parts and almost entirely homophonic. The five-part Never weather-beaten sail starts out in the same vein, but soon gives way to counterpoint. Finally, There is an old belief is largely polyphonic, with a few notable instances of emphatic homophony, for the text ‘That creed I fain would keep / That hope I’ll ne’er forget’.

Matthew Knight

Parts included:

  • Score
  • Trumpet in E-flat
  • Trumpet 1 in B-flat
  • Trumpet 2 in B-flat
  • Trombone 1
  • Trombone 2
  • Trombone 3 (Bass)
  • Tuba

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