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Danny Boy - Songs & Dancing Ballads by Grainger / Gardiner


Release Date: 05/14/1996 
Label:  Philips   Catalog #: 446657   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Percy Aldridge Grainger
Performer:  Robert JohnstonStephen CharlesworthLynette AlcantaraNicholas Robertson,   ... 
Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Monteverdi ChoirMonteverdi Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 15 Mins. 

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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

“Wogglings” and “grumble-shouts” abound, songs and shanties rudely collide, the jovial, the dark, the angry, the a cappella, the elaborately adorned; fabulously sophisticated harmonies have a way of sounding homespun, syncopated rhythms hop, skip and jump over the traces, the wind bands serenade and roar, guitars and harmonium and “tuneful percussion” come out to play, the more the merrier, the rowdier. And the whole world dances. Or mourns. The range of colour and expression contained here is bewildering. But that’s Grainger for you. You never quite know whether to laugh or cry, or both. You don’t second guess him, you don’t try to understand him. The genius is in the lunacy. And it goes deep.

The really startling thing
Read more about all these settings is the way in which Grainger unlocks the inner life of each text, each melody. He’ll digest it, understand it, respect it, and then in his response – which is nothing if not personal – he’ll elaborate, creating as little or as much subtext as is appropriate. Like Britten, in his folk-song settings, Grainger knew how and when to get out of the way. The plaintive Brigg Fair is no more, no less than the tenor solo and chiefly wordless chorus will allow us – a tune so precious to Grainger that even the harmony is almost an intrusion. Then there is the classic Londonderry Air – no words, just voices – a harmony that is so rich, so expressive, so integrated, that it always shrouds the melody in the imagination.

Then what, you may ask, could be more extraordinary (or unlikely) than the Love verses from “The Song of Solomon” (inquisitive, oddly erotic, a real Old Testament amplitude to harmony and texture – replete with harmonium)? Well, Shallow Brown for a start. Astounding. A sea shanty with the reach of a spiritual, it is set as the sailors will have yelled it, the vocal line stretching and distorting, straining to be heard over furious oceanic tremolandos (the aforementioned “wogglings”) in guitars and strings. An unexpected upturn (a tiny question mark) in the choral refrain at the close is typical of Grainger. He did so like to keep us guessing.

And there is plenty more where that came from. You should know what to expect when Grainger pitches What shall we do with a drunken sailor? into “a room-full of Scotch and Irish fiddlers and pipers and any nationality of English-speaking, shanty singing, deep-sea sailors …”. A “merry Babel”, he called it, and that it is. Quite how anything so intricately woven got to sound so spontaneously inebriated is beyond me. But then Grainger was always able to write down precisely what he heard. And in that he was closer to Charles Ives than any other composer I know. Indeed, the rousing finale, Tribute to Foster (that’s Stephen Foster, of course) is as much a tribute to Ives. Some tribute. Imagine America’s Beautiful dreamer in tandem with the Danbury marching bands all the way to the Camptown Races. Foster’s song, Grainger’s fantasy, and – at one point – Grainger’s words. That’s the amazing middle section, a lullaby-like reverie evoking childhood memories of his mother’s singing. “Tuneful percussion” (that’s the gamelan variety) wafts us into a weird and wonderful dreamscape, the tune now half-remembered in five solo voices while musical glasses and bowed marimbas lend a halo effect. In a riotous knees-up at the climactic refrain “Gwine to sing all night!” (and even before you get to play it, you can hear Grainger piling on the brassy counterpoints), two offstage groups enter the fray in disarray in readiness for a magical ‘dissolve’. Trumpet, clarinets and side-drum rattle off into the distance. The party’s over. Did it ever happen?

No more words. Call me biased – a fully paid-up member of the Grainger appreciation society – but this is a fabulous disc. John Eliot Gardiner may well have inherited some of his joy in this music (though heaven knows, you don’t need to inherit it) from his great-uncle, Balfour Gardiner (one of the ‘Frankfurt Gang’, which included Grainger). He is characteristically hot in his response to its rhythmic zest so too his wonderfully articulate, impeccably tuned, Monteverdi singers and players. The singing is, by turns, fleet, spry, fireside-cosy cathedral-rich – or plain raucous. Good grumble-shouts, too. All right, I’m never too convinced by choristers’ mummerset or laddish cockney, and, at the other extreme, you could argue that the singing is almost too good, too respectful at times. But there’s nothing more boring than reading an all-out rave review, so I’m niggling. Brilliant, revealing sound. A strong contender, come Award-time.

-- Edward Seckerson, Gramophone [4/1996]
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Works on This Recording

1. I'm Seventeen Come Sunday by Percy Aldridge Grainger
Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Monteverdi Choir,  Monteverdi Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1905-1912 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studios, London 
Length: 2 Minutes 56 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: EMI Abbey Road Studios, London (01/1995 - 02/1995) 
2. Brigg Fair by Percy Aldridge Grainger
Performer:  Robert Johnston (Harp)
Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Monteverdi Choir,  Monteverdi Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1906/1911; England 
Venue:  Guildhall, London, England 
Length: 3 Minutes 5 Secs. 
Notes: Guildhall, London, England (01/1995 - 02/1995) 
3. Love Verses from "The Song of Solomon" by Percy Aldridge Grainger
Performer:  Stephen Charlesworth (Baritone), Lynette Alcantara (Soprano), Nicholas Robertson (Tenor)
Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Monteverdi Choir,  Monteverdi Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1899/1931; England 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studios, London 
Length: 7 Minutes 18 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: EMI Abbey Road Studios, London (01/1995 - 02/1995) 
4. The Merry Wedding "Bridal Dance" by Percy Aldridge Grainger
Performer:  Nicola Jenkin (Soprano), Susannah Spicer (Alto), Julian Podger (Tenor),
Stephen Charlesworth (Baritone), Noel Mann (), Frances Jellard (Alto),
Colin Campbell (Baritone), Constanze Backes (Mezzo Soprano), Paul Tindall (Tenor)
Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Monteverdi Choir,  Monteverdi Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1912-1915; England 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studios, London 
Length: 5 Minutes 45 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: EMI Abbey Road Studios, London (01/1995 - 02/1995) 
5. Shallow Brown by Percy Aldridge Grainger
Performer:  Lynette Alcantara (Soprano)
Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Monteverdi Choir,  Monteverdi Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1910; England 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studios, London 
Length: 6 Minutes 32 Secs. 
Notes: EMI Abbey Road Studios, London (01/1995 - 02/1995) 
6. Mo Ninghean Dhu by Percy Aldridge Grainger
Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Monteverdi Choir,  Monteverdi Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studios, London 
Length: 4 Minutes 1 Secs. 
Notes: EMI Abbey Road Studios, London (01/1995 - 02/1995) 
7. The Bride's Tragedy by Percy Aldridge Grainger
Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Monteverdi Choir,  Monteverdi Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1908/1913; England 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studios, London 
Length: 9 Minutes 16 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: EMI Abbey Road Studios, London (01/1995 - 02/1995) 
8. Irish Tune from County Derry "Danny Boy" by Percy Aldridge Grainger
Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Monteverdi Choir,  Monteverdi Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1913; England 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studios, London 
Length: 3 Minutes 50 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: EMI Abbey Road Studios, London (01/1995 - 02/1995) 
9. Scotch Strathspey and Reel by Percy Aldridge Grainger
Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Monteverdi Choir,  Monteverdi Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1901-1911; England 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studios, London 
Length: 6 Minutes 54 Secs. 
Notes: EMI Abbey Road Studios, London (01/1995 - 02/1995) 
10. The Lost Lady Found by Percy Aldridge Grainger
Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Monteverdi Choir,  Monteverdi Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1905-1910; England 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studios, London 
Length: 2 Minutes 51 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: EMI Abbey Road Studios, London (01/1995 - 02/1995) 
11. The Three Ravens by Percy Aldridge Grainger
Performer:  Colin Campbell (Baritone)
Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Monteverdi Choir,  Monteverdi Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1902; England 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studios, London 
Length: 4 Minutes 11 Secs. 
Notes: EMI Abbey Road Studios, London (01/1995 - 02/1995) 
12. Danny Deever by Percy Aldridge Grainger
Performer:  Timothy Armstrong-Taylor ()
Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Monteverdi Choir,  Monteverdi Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1903/1922; England 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studios, London 
Length: 3 Minutes 15 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: EMI Abbey Road Studios, London (01/1995 - 02/1995) 
13. Tribute to Foster: Lullaby by Percy Aldridge Grainger
Performer:  Jennifer Higgins (Mezzo Soprano), Richard Savage (Baritone), Julian Podger (Tenor),
Angela Kazimierczuk ()
Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Monteverdi Choir,  Monteverdi Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1913/1931 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studios, London 
Length: 11 Minutes 15 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: EMI Abbey Road Studios, London (01/1995 - 02/1995) 
14. Father and Daughter by Percy Aldridge Grainger
Performer:  Julian Podger (Tenor), Nicholas Robertson (Tenor), Julian Clarkson (Baritone),
Simon Davies (Tenor), Noel Mann ()
Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Monteverdi Choir,  Monteverdi Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1908-1909; England 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studios, London 
Length: 2 Minutes 38 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: EMI Abbey Road Studios, London (01/1995 - 02/1995) 

Sound Samples

I'm Seventeen Come Sunday - Folk song from Lincolnshire and Somerset
Brigg Fair - Folksong from Lincolnshire, arranged for Tenor and Chorus
Love Verses from the Song of Solomon
The Merry Wedding - Bridal dance/Faeroese folk poems translated by Rose and Percy Grainger
Shallow Brown - Sailor's sea-chanty
Father and Daughter - A Faeroe Island dancing ballad
My Nighean Dubh (My Dark-haired Maiden)
The Bride's Tragedy
Irish Tune from County Derry ("Danny Boy") - Also known as "Londonderry Air"
Scotch Strathspey and Reel - Inlaid with several Irish and Scotch tunes and a sea-chanty
The Lost Lady Found - English dance-folksong
The Three Ravens - Old English Song
Danny Deever
Tribute to Foster - Based on a melody by Stephen Foster/Text: Stephen Foster and Percy Grainger

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