Academic journal article ARSC Journal

Apr

Academic journal article ARSC Journal

Apr

Article excerpt

APR has released Percy Grainger: The complete solo 78-rpm solo recordings, 1908-1945 (APR 7501, 5 CDs; a complete contents listing is available on the APR web site: www. aprrecordings.co.uk). The three earliest acoustic recordings, made for G&T in 1908, are extremely rare and the most interesting of these is the 1st mvt. cadenza from Grieg's A-minor Piano Concerto. Having been recorded during the period in which Grainger knew Grieg and received the composer's endorsement for his interpretation of the Concerto, it is especially valuable. Aside from these and three HMVs recorded in 1914, the remaining acoustical recordings were made for American Columbia between 1917 and 1924, and consist primarily of short pieces, including several miniatures by Grieg and Grainger. According to the excellent notes by John Bird, Grainger admired the "recklessness" in Eugen D'Albert playing, and his willingness to take risks is clearly evident in his Liszt performances, including Hungarian Rhapsodies Nos. 2 (abridged), 12 and 15, and the Polonaise No. 2 in E-major. One recording includes an instrumental accompaniment--Liszt's Fantasia on Hungarian Folk Themes, featuring the Columbia Concert Band and an anonymous conductor (in all likelihood Charles Prince, Columbia's Musical Director at that time). Two issued takes of Chopin's Prelude in A-flat, Op. 28, No. 17, made the same day, show Grainger's inclination to never play the same piece exactly the same way twice--the second version has more rubato than the first. There are also two performances of Grainger's Flower Waltz Paraphrase, based on its namesake from Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker. This is one of the most difficult of all transcriptions for piano, and an ideal tour de force for Grainger's extraordinary virtuosity.

Grainger's electrical recordings, made for American Columbia between 1925 and 1931, include three fabulous Bach transcriptions: Toccata and Fugue in D-minor, arr. Tausig/Busoni/Grainger, plus the Prelude and Fugue in A-minor and Fantasia and Fugue in G-minor, both arr. …

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