Grainger Edition, Vol 15 – Orchestral Works 3

Green Bushes (Passacaille sur un veil air populaire anglais) – Hill Song n° 2 – The Merry King – Eastern Intermezzo …. / BBC Philharmonic – Richard Hickox, directionChandos’ Grainger Edition brings yet another cornucopia of delights delivered with indefatigable dedication and twinkling charisma by Richard Hickox and the BBC Philharmonic. The formula is the same as on this team’s first and second volumes of Grainger’s orchestral music, with tried-and-trusted nuggets such as Green Bushes and Colonial Song (both given here in particularly lavish orchestrations from 1905-06 and 1919 respectively) sitting cheek by jowl alongside genuine rarities like The Merry King (based on a folk-tune from West Sussex and boasting a seductively ornate piano contribution) and the amazingly colourful English Dance No.1 (a riot of a piece which prompted Gabriel Fauré to exclaim: “It’s as if the total population were a-dancing!”). Perhaps the most startlingly original items here were originally conceived for wind band, namely the bracingly tangy Hill Song No.2 and that ambitious, extraordinarily entitled essay The Power of Rome and the Christian Heart (which also draws on material from the first movement of Grainger’s glorious Danish Folk Song Suite). Chandos’ thrillingly realistic sonics fairly leap from the loudspeakers. All told, a huge tonic and not to be missed. —Andrew Achenbach