Percy Grainger plays Grainger
Grand Piano is a series devoted to the art of the Reproducing Piano. It presents major performances by the legendary pianists who recorded for the Aeolian Company between 1915 and 1930.
The acoustic gramophone rarely attempted major keyboard works. The 78s' restricted sound and duration was acceptable for short virtuoso pieces but little else. In contrast, by 1915, the Aeolian Company's "Duo-Art" was already a highly sophisticated digital recording process. Pianists, well aware of the gramophone's limitations, turned enthusiastically to the reproducing piano. Hofmann, Bauer, Paderewski and Grainger were especially committed, not alone in believing that they had achieved the ultimate recording process. Great pianists joined them in recording their concert repertoire, including much that was never repeated on disc.
The reproducing piano was a tragic victim of the devastated economy of 1930's America. It disappeared, not because it was inadequate, but, because it was expensive. The pianist's faith in the reproducing piano remained overwhelming; one of the most exciting musical inventions of our age.
"What we hear is detailed, very well recorded on a modern concert grand, and stylistically fascinating. It shows Grainger to have been a highly unorthodox pianist - wild and renegade in his attitudes to conventional keyboard decorum, chopping and lurching his way with spontaneity from phrase to phrase, and priapically rhythmic in almost everything he played. The results are invigorating ... These unique Nimbus reconstructions of the Grainger sound make most other performances of his music I have heard sound misguidedly conventional and tame. Controversial the piano rolls themselves may be: to my ears the sound that they produce is very much that of the real beast." Terry Blain, Classic CD
"We have always been admirers of the Duo-Art player-piano recording system, and here Grainger's personality leaps out from the speakers, yet the original rolls were cut between 1915-1929! It is good to have such a winningly vigorous Country Gardens and such a characterful Shepherd's Hey, while Sheep and Goats Walkin' to the Pasture has rhythmical character of the kind that makes one smile...Grainger makes his arrangement of the Richard Strauss love-duet from Der Rosenkavalier sound intimately luscious and deliciously idiomatic. The recording is first class." The Penguin Guide