Lady Radnor’s Suite

Here is a lovely suite for string orchestra by Hubert Parry (1848-1918). This excellent version, full of freshness is performed here by the English String Orchestra, and conducted by William Boughton. The slow Minuet just before the final Gigue is absolutely haunting and I have heard it over and over again. I would be tempted to arrange it into a choral piece with a Latin text.

I find this information about the suite:

“Helen, Countess of Rador was the wife of the Fifth Earl of Longford Castle, Salisbury and was a close personal friend of Hubert Parry. She was unique in many ways, but perhaps the most intriguing aspect of her personality was her insistence upon doing things not normally viewed as acceptable ways for a proper Victorian Lady to entertain herself. One of these activities was commissioning works for a seventy-two piece chamber orchestra which she then conducted in a public performance in London. The Lady Radnor Suite is one such work, and Lady Radnor and her chamber orchestra gave the first performance June 29, 1894 at St. James Hall. Parry patterned the work on the early classical orchestral suite of dance movements, and the six movements all demonstrate the influence of antiquity. Each traditional dance style is preserved with great care, while Parry’s own particularly English harmonic language marks them as more contemporary.”

The influence of the English Renaissance and the German baroque are unmistakable, as is the fresh style of Parry following the most classical rules of harmony and counterpoint. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

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