1. Wedding March – allegro energico
2. Menuetto and Trio – bright and cocky
3. Offertorium – andante con moto
4. Sortie – vivace con gioia
The four movements eventually comprising this Suite were written at various dates for various wedding ceremonies, involving friends, colleagues, and a Godson.
Earliest was the March (no.1): this piece of “cubist Parry” is a response to a request from a couple who wanted to avoid the familiar warhorses, Mendelssohn and Lohengrin (but snatches from these two proscribed wedding-regulars creep in surreptitiously). Its form is as straightforward as its idiom – march, trio, return of march, coda combining elements of both, and a fairy-tale fade-out – “happy ever after”.
The Offertorium (no.3) is equally simple in shape and style: gentle meditative strains enclose a more animated and impassioned middle section. The Menuetto and Trio (for manuals only) trips brightly along with lively cheerfulness. Trips literally sometimes, the triple time subverted by occasional bars of five, seven, nine, and occasional whole phrases in four.
The Sortie is a longer movement, in bubbly 12/8 with calmer episodes for contrast, and an extended lyrical middle section which, rather like the March and its trio, is then combined with the principal ideas and momentum of the opening to make a coda at once exuberant and serious. This movement arrived too late to be used at the occasion it was written for – it’s a virtuoso piece, not susceptible to rapid assimilation like 2 and 3: thus today’s performance will be its premiere.
Robin Holloway, March 2007
This programme note may be reproduced free of charge in concert programmes with a credit to the composer.