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Grainger: In A Nutshell / Rattle, City Of Birmingham SO


Release Date: 09/10/2002 
Label:  Emi Classics   Catalog #: 56412   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Percy Aldridge GraingerMaurice RavelClaude Debussy
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Orchestra/Ensemble:  City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

This recording received a 1998 "Critic's Choice" award from Gramophone magazine.

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No beating about the bush: here is a simply marvellous Grainger anthology. Good as Richard Hickox’s recent BBC PO account of In a nutshell was, Rattle’s surpasses it in terms of rhythmic point and bracing character (the very opening bars of “Arrival Platform Humlet” at once reveal an extra spring and subtlety about the CBSO’s exhilaratingly clean-limbed response). Although Hickox is never less than sympathetic, Rattle makes us even more aware of the startling originality of Grainger’s vision, its unhinged wildness and inventiveness – attributes even more to the fore in The Warriors. This extraordinary creation,
Read more described by the composer himself as “an orgy of war-like dances, processions and merry-making, broken, or accompanied, by amorous interludes”, has already been handsomely served on CD by Geoffrey Simon and John Eliot Gardiner. Rattle’s stunning new version strikes me as the best one of all, possessing a mastery of texture and irresistible choreographic flair to remind us that the piece had its origins in a commission (proposed by Beecham, but ultimately scrapped) for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes.

There are plenty of other treats in store. At the behest of Leopold Stokowski, Grainger made the present reworking of Country Gardens in 1950. It is quirkily scored, harmonically eventful and hugely entertaining. The delectable arrangements of Ravel’s “La vallee des cloches” (the only performance here which has been previously released) and Debussy’s “Pagodes” are quite captivating in their imaginative, ear-tickling sonorities (the instrumentation of the former includes parts for vibraphone, marimba, dulcitone and other “tuneful percussion”, the latter for harmonium, celesta and no fewer than four pianos). Both receive exquisite treatment on this occasion. Train music is an intriguing torso dating from 1901. The teenage composer’s ambition evidently knew no bounds, for he began to score the work for an orchestra of about 150 players, comprising 100 strings and an enormous woodwind section (eight oboes, six bassoons, etc.). It’s heard here in a reduced orchestration by the American Grainger authority, Eldon Rathburn.

Finally, Rattle and his admirable Birmingham forces give us an exceptionally perceptive Lincolnshire Posy. Not only do the fabulous blend and immaculate intonation of the CBSO’s wind and brass really take the breath away, but Rattle’s interpretation is also full of insight. Most remarkable of all is “Rufford Park Poachers” – a provocatively spacious conception, full of tragic grandeur; “Lord Melbourne”, too, is memorable, acquiring a fierce, hard-edged intensity wholly apt for a “War Song” (to quote Grainger’s own alternative title).

Immaculate production-values and presentation. One for every reader’s shopping-list.

-- Andrew Achenbach, Gramophone
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Works on This Recording

1. In a Nutshell by Percy Aldridge Grainger
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Orchestra/Ensemble:  City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1916; England 
2. Train Music by Percy Aldridge Grainger
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Orchestra/Ensemble:  City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1900 
3. Country Gardens by Percy Aldridge Grainger
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Orchestra/Ensemble:  City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
Notes: Orchestrated: Leopold Stokowski 
4. Miroirs: La vallée des cloches by Maurice Ravel
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Orchestra/Ensemble:  City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1904-1905; France 
Notes: Orchestrated: Percy Grainger 
5. Lincolnshire Posy by Percy Aldridge Grainger
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Orchestra/Ensemble:  City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1937-1938; USA 
6. Estampes (3) for Piano: no 1, Pagodes by Claude Debussy
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Orchestra/Ensemble:  City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1903; France 
Notes: Orchestrated: Percy Grainger 
7. The Warriors for Orchestra, 3 Pianos and Percussion by Percy Aldridge Grainger
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Orchestra/Ensemble:  City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1912-1916; England 

Featured Sound Samples

In a Nutshell: IV. The Gumsuckers March
Lincolnshire Posy: II. Horkstow Grange
Lincolnshire Posy: IV. The Brisk Young Sailor

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