Monday 17 March 2008

Irish Tune Redux

Ok, I couldn't leave you hanging on that last rendition without resolving the cadence into the real thing, and here it is, with Anthony Parnther teasing the Derry air out of the Tennessee Brass.

It's perfect for St. Pat's, it's the perfect Irish song and here's why: It's the juiciest tune in the repetoire! First off, it is an Irish tune, an ancient Irish tune, so it has that bit of street cred to start, but before you get any farther than the name, you're already embroiled in a particularly Irish problem wincing between the Derry's and the Londonderry's. Who says concert band music isn't political.

Only, it gets better. This tune, this ancient tune, was absconded with by the English who loved to put things into their collections, and it was through such a collection of quaint barbarisms that the tune caught the imagination of the very brilliant, and very strange, Percy Grainger. The ultimate Irish tune, unforgettably arranged by an Australian composer who, in addition to stacks of scores, also bequeathed to his namesake museum several whips and some blood-soaked underwear. Who says concert band music isn't colourful!

And thoroughly modern, Percy was conceived of his mother's affair with a statue of a Greek god, studied composition with Grieg, wrote chance music 40 years before Cage, composed unplayable works for player piano way before Nancarrow, was a personal friend of Duke Ellington and pioneered beat-less free music and tone clusters, plus, decades before Liberace, Percy was an astounding superstar celebrity pianist married before 25,000 in the Hollywood Bowl!

Amazon: Irish Tune from County Derry / Percy Grainger