PERCY GRAINGER IN PERFORMANCE
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"Grainger, one of the more colorful characters in the history of 20th
Century music, emerges here as a powerhouse performer of astonishing intellectual
and emotional breadth."
-John Bell Young, American Record Guide
Grainger studied the A minor concerto of Grieg with the composer and was scheduled to play it under his baton in Leeds in 1907. Grieg's death prevented that concert but their collaboration bore fruit in the pianist's two-piano edition published by Schermer in 1920. In addition we have 1908 recording of the first movement cadenza, a 1921 Duo-Art piano roll of the complete concerto, and the live recording here made when the pianist was still at the height of his powers (followed by several concert performances recorded in the late 1950s when the pianist was in poor health and his powers had declined). Grainger's interpretation of the Grieg concerto is pointed, spicy, brilliant, caution-to-the-wind, not very grandiose or majestic, and less virtuosically showy than many. His trademark impulsiveness and fast tempos are here, and so is his trademark lack of regard for technical safety. In spite of technical lapses, this is an authoritative, all-stops-out performance, the more impressive in that the pianist was in his early sixties. The pianist's own compositions are good illustrations of his eclectic style and his interest in folk music. What was remarkable about Grainger as a pianist, as a performer of standard repertoire, was how modern he sounded. Back in the Golden Age of the Piano, in the era of de Pachmann and Rosenthal and Paderewski, Grainger played with a directness and clarity, an absence of self-indulgence, that many found refreshing. The recording of the Symphonic Etudes on this disc illustrates a remarkable and very modern respect for the printed score. The live recordings on this CD are derived from broadcast acetates preserved in the archives of the sponsor, Standard Oil Company of California, and are in the best possible sound, while the commercial recording has been carefully transferred from a relatively quiet set.
Grieg: Piano Concerto in A, Op. 16; Grainger: Molly on the Shore (both with
HBO, Stokowski, 15 July 1945 live); Grainger: In a Nutshell Suite (with HBO,
Stokowski, 21 July 1946 live); Schumann: Drei Romanzen: #2, Op. 28 in F-sharp
and Etudes Symphoniques, Op. 13 (from 1928 Columbia 78 RPM recordings, commercially
issued). Total time: 72:25. [AAD]
UPC # 017685-40892-5
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