Orchestral Works 3 The CHANDOS GRAINGER EDITION Volume 15
Richard Hickox conducting
the BBC Philharmonic
CHANDOS CHAN 9839
In a Nutshell
Simon Rattle conducting
the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.
EMI 5 56412 2
Jungle Book John Mark Ainsley (tenor), David Wilson-Johnson (baritone)
Polyphony, The Polyphony
Orchestra conducted by Stephen Laytona
We had planned that the Danish composer, Carl Nielsen would be our subject
this month. However, since a new recording of Percy Grainger's orchestral
music has just been released by Chandos and is
on our associated site, Classical Music on the Web, and because Film Music
on the Web is carrying a review of John
Bird's book about the composer, both of which we suggest you read, it was
felt that we should grasp the opportunity to make Percy Grainger the subject
of this month's 'If Only They Had written for Films.'
As reported in the book review, Grainger had a number of film and film music
associations. He was a true cosmopolitan: born and raised in Australia, attended
music college in Frankfurt, resided in England where he was enormously
influential in the folk song revival, and settled in America. Dominated by
his mother, he was, nevertheless, an incredibly strong athlete stoking ship's
boilers (as a passenger!), and running miles to concerts etc. An incredibly
colourful character, he was married in front of thousands of people at the
end of a concert (he was a very gifted concert pianist too) at the Hollywood
Bowl. The many records of his music have always sold well. He eschewed concerti
and symphonies in favour of beautifully crafted, melodic miniatures like,
Country Gardens, Handel in the Strand, Mock Morris, and Shepherd's
Hey - all immensely popular.
All the above works have been included in Chandos's ambitious Grainger Edition.
Chandos' plan to record all Grainger's works and arrangements. The Edition
has covered vocal, orchestral, chamber and instrumental and wind band concerts
and recitals of the composer's music. Grainger made many different arrangements
of his pieces for many combinations of instruments and voices, to allow maximum
performance opportunity. The latest release, Volume 15 Orchestral Works 3
- includes less well-known yet interesting works like: Hill Song 2, Colonial
Song (a very emotional piece that would grace some screenplay), the
exotic Eatern Intermezzo for percussion ensemble and The Power
of Rome and the Christian Heart might equally tempt some producer looking
for source music.
Grainger was impressed with the writings of Rudyard Kipling to the extent
that he was influenced to write many settings of Kipling's writings. The
Hyperion release includes many of these, plus 13 other songs and one of
Grainger's most passionate and affecting works, Shallow Brown.
The EMI collection conducted by Simon Rattle is recommended because it is
stunningly recorded and includes a performance of Grainger's most significant
work, The Warriors (Music to an imaginary ballet.), as well as
Country Gardens, In a Nutshell and Grainger's immensely
colourful orchestration of Ravel's La Vallée des Cloches.