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Percy GRAINGER (1882-1961)
Transcriptions for Wind Orchestra
Full track details at end of review
Ivan Hovorun (piano)
Royal Northern College of Music Wind Orchestra/Clark Rundell.    
rec. 1-2 April 2007, Studio 7 New Broadcasting House, Manchester. DDD
CHANDOS CHAN10455 [60:51]
Experience Classicsonline


Here is a major batch of premiere recordings of arrangements made by Grainger in the 1930s and 1940s. It falls into two segments: gems from the Baroque and earlier eras and a miscellany of genre pieces from the romantic era and the twentieth century.
 
Grainger was something of a dab-hand when it came to arrangements and transcriptions. He was a practical musician as well as a fanciful one with his multiple arrangements of his own music allowing for a wider range of performing opportunities as well as being evidence of a certain idealism. The fourteen transcriptions featured here offer proof-generous both of his craft and of the breadth of his access to source material.
 
The Angelus is marked liltingly and it melts a typical Graingerian cheerfulness and Gabrieli-like nobility into this melody by an as yet unidentified composer. The Machaut Ballade No. 17 is redolent of some serenely circling angelic host. There is a foot-tapping quality to La Bernardina. The Cabezon Prelude again moves in a stately liquefaction redolent of Hovhaness. For the first time in the Ferrabosco-based Pavan I felt the heavy hand of nineteenth century technique of the type we have heard in sluggish glucose-heavy Bach orchestrations. This is blown away by Jenkins' Fantasy No. 15 which has more of the familiar Grainger about it. The 1946 March is an unnerving creature having transformed a piece from the Clavierbüchlein into bouncy bombast. An undulantly winding and smooth arrangement of See what his love can do provides balm for the soul; not to mention a hint of Sheep may safely graze. O mensch bewein has some Finzian trills and a stately and moving tread.
 
A major mood gear-change comes with the 17 minute Hungarian Fantasy arranged by Grainger at the age of 77. It is for wind-band with piano solo - here glitteringly despatched by Ivan Hovorun.  It is fascinating to hear but I did not feel that there was any compulsion that it should exist in a windband arrangement and in any event the piano is firmly and glitteringly centre-stage. Franck's Second Chorale with its recollections of the famous Symphony is most tastefully arranged in a way that declares openly its organ origins. Until reading Barry Peter Ould's note I had not realised that Grainger revered Fauré quite so much. Oddly enough I thought more often of Elgar in the Fauré piece – at least at first. Interesting that Grainger irradiated his own genetic material so skilfully into the Goossens Folk-Tune (originally for solo piano) and at the same time not quite escape echoes of Holst's Moorside Suite. We end with an arrangement of that little sentimental treasure Down Longford Way by Katharine Parker (1886-1971). Parker's exercise in nostalgia and rose-tints is lent a surprisingly stirring grandeur.
 
Nothing here outstays its welcome. Playing times are short and to the succinct point.
 
Not essential Grainger perhaps but some stunningly inventive work and most superbly performed and recorded.
 
Rob Barnett
 
Full Tracklisting
Premiere recording in this version 
1 Angelus ad Virginem (1942) 1:55
      by Anonymous (thirteenth century) 
      from Chosen Gems for Winds  
      Edited by Barry Peter Ould 
      Liltingly 
       
Premiere recording 
2 Ballade No. 17 (1937) 2:11
      by Guillaume de Machaut (c. 1300-1377) 
      from Chosen Gems for Winds  
      Edited by Keith Brion and Barry Peter Ould 
      Lyrically, with slow gentle lilt 
       
Premiere recording 
3 La Bernardina (1943) 1:16
      Canzone in three parts 
      by Josquin des Prez (c. 1450/1455-1521) 
      from Chosen Gems for Winds  
      Edited by Barry Peter Ould 
      Flowingly 
       
4 Prelude in the Dorian Mode (1941) 4:17
      Tiènto del Segundo Tono 
      by Antonio de Cabezón (c. 1510-1566) 
      from Chosen Gems for Winds  
      Edited by Keith Brion and Michael Brand 
      Flowingly - Coda. Somewhat lingeringly, gradually slowing to the end 
       
Premiere recording 
5 The Four Note Pavan (1940) 3:06
      No. 13 from Consort Music to the Viols in 4, 5 and 6 parts 
      by Alfonso Ferrabosco II (c. 1575-1628) 
      from Chosen Gems for Winds  
      Edited by Barry Peter Ould 
      Stately, yet with a grave playfulness, and wit the lilt of a slow dance 
       
Premiere recording in this version 
6 Five-Part Fantasy No. 15 (1937-41) 3:16
      A Five Tone-Strand Fantasy for Viols 
      by John Jenkins (1592-1678) 
      Scored from the original Viol manuscript 
      by Arnold Dolmetsch (1858-1940) 
      from Chosen Gems for Winds  
      Edited by Stephen Carpenter 
      Lively, but sustained (not energetic) 
       
7 March (1946) 1:31
      March, BWV Anh. 122 
      from Clavierbüchlein II for Anna Magdalena Bach (1725) 
      by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) 
      now attributed to Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (1714-1788) 
      as interpreted by Arnold Dolmetsch 
      from Chosen Gems for Winds  
      Edited by Kees Kramer and Barry Peter Ould 
      Fast marching speed 
       
Premiere recording 
8 See what His love can do (1937) 3:02
      'Seht, was die Liebe tut', aria for tenor 
      from Cantata, BWV 85 Ich bin ein guter Hirt (1725) 
      by Johann Sebastian Bach 
      from Chosen Gems for Winds  
      Edited and realised by Barry Peter Ould 
      Larghetto 
       
9 O Mensch, bewein' dein' Sünde groß (1936-42) 3:38
      Chorale prelude, BWV 622 
      from Das Orgelbüchlein (1713-15) 
      by Johann Sebastian Bach 
      from Chosen Gems for Winds   
      Edited by Keith Brion and Michael Brand 
      Slowly flowing - Più lento 
       
Premiere recording in this version 
10 Hungarian Fantasy (1959) 16:38
      Fantasie über ungarische Volksmelodien, S 123, R 458 (1849-52) 
      by Franz Liszt (1811-1886) 
      Edited by Barry Peter Ould 
      Andante mesto - Adagio - 
  Ivan Hovorun piano
       
11 Chorale No. 2 (1942) 11:47
      from Trois Chorals (1890) 
      by César Franck (1822-1890) 
      from Chosen Gems for Winds   
      Edited by R. Mark Rogers 
      Maestoso - Largamente, con fantasia - 
       
12 Tuscan Serenade (1937) 2:49
      'Sérénade toscane', Op. 3 No. 2 (?1878) 
      by Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924) 
      from Chosen Gems for Winds  
      Edited by Keith Brion and Luis Maldonado 
      Andante con moto quasi Allegretto - Più mosso - Tempo I 
       
13 Folk-Tune (1942) 2:33
      No. 1 from Two Ballades, Op. 38 (1924) 
      by Sir Eugene Goossens (1893-1962) 
      from Chosen Gems for Winds  
      Molto tranquillo e con moto - Rallentando al fine 
       
Premiere recording in this version 
14 Down Longford Way (1935) 2:08
      No. 2 from Four Musical Sketches (1928) 
      by Katharine Parker (1886-1971) 
      Edited and realised by Barry Peter Ould 
   Slowly but flowing (Andante) - Molto rallentendo al fine


 


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