WORKS: Suite ‘In a Nutshell’; Green Bushes; English Dance; Colonial Song
PERFORMER: BBC Philharmonic/Richard Hickox
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 9493
Regrettably, though predictably, the remarkable musical achievements of Percy Grainger have been overshadowed latterly by a tabloidish interest in both his sexual tastes and bizarre (to say nothing of deplorable) racial views. Now a more serious reassessment seems to be under way, with a recent disc from John Eliot Gardiner, and here the commencement of a Grainger Edition with an orchestral anthology which is emotionally, texturally, and in almost every other sense, bewilderingly diverse.
Grainger the composer remains best-known for a handful of short entertainment pieces represented here by the light, fantastic gaiety of Shepherd’s Hey, but his uniquely original turn of mind is equally evident in the characteristic verve of the substantial English Dance, the maze-like varied repetitions of Green Bushes and the carefree vivacity of The ‘Gum-suckers’ March from the suite In a Nutshell. With endless imaginative resource at his disposal, he could make something winsome, even noble, out of material (such as the Colonial Song) that in lesser hands might have lapsed into the merely sentimental.
The BBC Philharmonic provides first-rate playing and the sound has a wide range, though it could do with a brighter edge. George Hall