Percy GRAINGER (1882-1961)
Ever Yours - Selected Music and Letters of Percy Grainger
Damien Beaumont (reader)
Adelaide Symphony Orchestra/David Stanhope
rec. 30 September-2 October 2003, Adelaide Town Hall
Full tracklist at end of review
ABC CLASSICS 476 4628 [63:28]
The complete package on offer here - booklet and CD - amounts to a readable and listenable encyclopedic entry on Grainger, the man and his music. What’s more we get something like the ‘complete’ man. The many facets of his life and character are addressed. The list is long: his insistence on Anglo-Saxon English, his ‘mother's boy’ devotion, his muscular energy running from concert to concert, his dazzling repute as a piano virtuoso and his staunch friendship with many musicians including Grieg and Delius. Add to this his heightened sense of self-worth, his confident and unconventional sexuality - both in ideas and in sado-masochist practice, his mania for towelling clothing and his dedication to recording things - his museum. All the most famous musical pieces are there though we do not have extracts from the more challenging stuff such as the astonishingly eruptive The Warriors and the weird harmonic experimental machine music of the 1940s onwards.
This is very much Damien Beaumont’s baby - his sequence and his concept. Beaumont is used to playing a narrative role. He has been the orator in Strauss's Enoch Arden and Britten’s Ovid Metamorphoses. He also took that role in two works by Jessica Duchen's Franz Liszt - Son of the Father and her Songs of Triumphant Love. I have previously had good cause to praise Duchen’s Phaidon book on Korngold. I had not realized that she was a composer and would like to hear these two works.
Beaumont reads the shortish letter extracts with a sort of innocent wide-eyed clarity yet is quite natural and unstilted. Readings alternate with music - complete works, all fairly brief. David Stanhope draws out and conveys from his orchestra those great slow-surging and sentimental upwashes of warmth as well as a spirit of sheer jollity. Kay Dreyfus provides the annotation. Her 1985 book of Grainger’s letters The Farthest North of Humanness is well worth looking out though brace yourself.
Grainger stylishly presented in Grainger’s own words with his own music. There’s no better place to start but even seasoned Grainger enthusiasts - those who already have the stunning Chandos Grainger Edition - will find much of value here.
Grainger stylishly presented in Grainger’s own words with his own music.
1 Mock Morris
2 ‘On Thursday afternoon, Dec 6, I’m going to make a sort of short speech’
3 My Robin is to the Greenwood Gone
4 ‘Dear “København”!’
5 Colonial Song
6 ‘I stand at the moment at a turning point’
8 ‘My own compositions I undertake largely as a kind of artistic life insurance’
9 Harvest Hymn
10 ‘To produce clever overrefined sensual wild types like me’
11 The Power of Love
12 ‘In 1932 or 1933 my wife and I took up this idea of clothing made of towelling’
13 The Nightingale and The Two Sisters
14 ‘Dear Lady Winefride’
15 Irish Tune from County Derry
16 ‘My heart & head alarm me’
17 Blithe Bells
18 ‘Sorrow is fine & productive for me’
19 Early One Morning
20 ‘I love my father so much more since I have lost mother’
21 ‘The Duke of Marlborough’ Fanfare
22 ‘Do you know, little Karen’
23 The Immovable ‘Do’
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