Percy Grainger was an extraordinary human being and musician- a precocious pianist, colorful composer and world traveller, a peculiarly passionate and emotive eccentric whose fertile mind produced an expansive oeuvre of original and inventive works. Above all Grainger is best known for his most enduring musical endeavor- his exploration and dissemination of folk music. With this release, soprano Claire Booth and pianist Christopher Glynn, who have spent decades delving into Grainger’s folk music output, document their fascination with the multifaceted firebrand, and bring his alluring music to a wider audience. Grainger’s success resulted in multiple versions of his folk song settings, for orchestra, wind band, chamber ensemble and choir. But it’s perhaps his versions for voice and piano that are the most characteristic, bringing out Grainger’s own highly individual style at the keyboard. Claire’s and Christopher’s survey, one of the most comprehensive available on the market today, offers a variety of transcriptions of songs found in collections from the British Isles as well as discoveries Grainger heard as he roamed throughout the field. The album concludes with Grainger’s most celebrated piece, English Country Gardens, in which Claire makes a cameo appearance on piano, joining Christopher in a rousing duet.
They beautifully manage the contrasts between simplicity and immense sophistication that all these songs regularly provide; it makes a really engaging sequence.
– Guardian (UK)
This disc affords tremendous pleasure; it’s well recorded and intelligently annotated, too. Warmly recommended.