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Olga Hegedus

The Australian Percy Aldridge Grainger (1882-1961) saw himself as an innovator. Writing about what he called “Free music”, he said: “It is my only important contribution to music”. Only in the last decade has there been a comprehensive assessment of Grainger’s pianistic and compositional art, with numerous recordings of his works and reissues of some of his most important historic recordings. Grainger arranged and transcribed many of the works of J.S. Bach. Among the most extraordinary of these is his Blithe Bells, which he subtitled, “Ramble on Bach’s Aria ‘Sheep May Safely Graze’”. “The ramble,” wrote Grainger, “is coloured by the thought that Bach, in writing the melody in thirds that open and close the number, may have aimed at giving a hint of the sound of sheep bells”. The delicious jazzy moment at the end of the piece is pure gold. He recorded the “ramble” in 1931 in New York on his favoured piano of the time, the Mason & Hamlin.

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