Folk music by Grainger sung by Claire Booth

Our rating 
2.0 out of 5 star rating 2.0

COMPOSERS: Grainger
LABELS: Avie
ALBUM TITLE: Grainger
WORKS: Folk music
PERFORMER: Claire Booth (soprano), Christopher Glynn (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: AV 2372

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Claire Booth and Christopher Glynn have nurtured a love of Grainger’s folk song transcriptions and re-compositions since university days 20 years ago. Now the love has exploded onto this CD, a cunning arrangement of 11 vocal and seven instrumental tracks throbbing with Grainger’s idiosyncratic genius for creating miniature masterpieces of human anguish and delight.

I wish I could love the CD back, but Booth and Glynn make this difficult. Booth sings with piercing purity, expressivity and, once on high, some of the force of a blowtorch. It’s too much: Grainger might like his emotions raw, but he doesn’t need expressionist screams at the climax of Early One Morning. Also, in this power storm of ‘concert’ tone the outline of words often get lost: not the case with former exponents like Peter Pears and John Shirley-Quirk, or even Grainger’s original folk singers, mistily recorded over a century ago.

Excessive finger attacks and staccato phrasings often make Glynn’s playing equally uncomfortable, and the cloudy sounds in the piano’s lower register don’t help. Luckily, Walking Tune ambles along fetchingly and Country Gardens, with Booth stepping up for a piano duet, wraps up the CD with a grin. But I’d really like to be happier all round.

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Geoff Brown