Percy GRAINGER (1882- 1961)
Rambles and Reflections - Piano Transcriptions by Grainger
The Carman's Whistle 'Air and Variations' BK36 [4:21] William Byrd (1539/40-1623)
Now, oh now I needs must part [4:28] John Dowland (1563-1626)
Hornpipe from Water Music [1:42] George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)
Handelian Rhapsody [6:'22] Cyril Scott (1879-1970)
Air and Dance [4:34] Frederick Delius (1862-1934)
Four Irish Dances; Sir Charles Villiers Stanford (1852-1924)
No 1: A March-Jig 'Maguire's Kick' [3:21] No 2: A Slow Dance [4:33] No 3: The Leprechaun's Dance [2:52] No 4: A Reel [4:08] Beautiful Fresh Flower [1:48] Anonymous - traditional
Ramble on Love from Der Rosenkavalier [7:08] Richard Strauss (1864-1949)
Cradle Song (No 4 of Fünf Lieder, Op 49) [3:41] Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)
Après un rêve Op 7 No 1 [2:56] Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924)
Nell Op 18 No 1 [2:33] Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924)
Paraphrase on Tchaikovsky's Flower Waltz [6:33] Pyotr Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)
The man I love [3:45] George Gershwin (1898-1937)
Love walked in [3:35] George Gershwin (1898-1937)
Lullaby (Extract from Tribute to Foster) [6:20] Stephen Foster (1826-1864)
Piers Lane (piano)
rec. April 2001

This Helios reissue was first released on Hyperion CDA67279 nearly a decade ago. It remains a fine disc, and enshrines some of Grainger’s major, and a few minor, transcriptions. They’re all played with an engaging sense of vitality and, where appropriate, chiselled rhythmic sense. Piers Lane never dawdles, and invariably invigorates.

The disc opens with a litmus test of Grainger performance, the Air and variations by Byrd, better known as The Carman’s Whistle and played with warm lyricism and beautifully balanced appreciation of the dictates of the tune. It’s often taken slower, indeed Martin Jones in his Nimbus boxed set of Grainger’s solo piano works takes it considerably slower. Both approaches work, but arguably a tighter tempo grip is the more appropriate. The programme is by no means slavishly chronological – the chronology referring to the composers whose works are transcribed, not that of the date Grainger reclothed them – but it is very broadly so. Therefore Byrd is followed by Dowland and Handel, in proper chronology, but then by Cyril Scott and Stanford which isn’t. This matters not at all. The Scott, in fact, offers a rare chance to hear a transcription that is overlooked, the Handelian Rhapsody. It’s quite an expressive piece, full of brio and chordal panache; of Handel there is little sign, nor of Scott too, really, for that matter.

Grainger’s transcription of Stanford’s Four Irish Dances is, by contrast, very well known. Lane takes sensible tempi and characterises finely. Jones is a touch faster but no more communicative. The ‘Ramble on Love’ is from Rosenkavalier, one of his most famous such transcriptions. Where Jones luxuriates in its aching beauty, Lane presses a bit onwards, reining in the languor and bittersweet harmonies. In his 78 in 1929 Grainger drove through it in just over six minutes, though possibly it was to fit two sides of the disc. Of the two Fauré settings, I’ve always much preferred Nell to Après un rêve because the former sounds so much more idiomatic. The Paraphrase on Tchaikovsky's Flower Waltz is powerfully engaging in Lane’s hands. When the composer set down his version in 1918 – two takes have survived – he had to hustle through it, brilliantly though he did it. Rightly the disc ends with the treble burnish of Stephen Foster via Grainger’s tribute to him – music of affection and once more considerable warmth.

Lane’s excellent, acutely perceptive recording emerges quite as recommendable as in its first incarnation.

Jonathan Woolf

Lane’s excellent, acutely perceptive recording emerges quite as recommendable as in its first incarnation.