Wednesday, April 15, 2009

In an English country garden

At no time in his life after the age of about fifteen did Grainger abandon his sadistic and masochistic pleasure-seeking. Blood-letting was often part of his activities and he nearly always laundered his own shirts because of the telltale bloodstains. With the possible exception of Mimi Kwast, all his girlfriends were to be drawn into his particular form of lovemaking and there is ample photographic evidence of this. Several photographs exist which he took himself after one of his bouts of auto-flagellation. An indication of his extraordinary mentality can be detected from the fact that as he stood before the camera lens with bleeding wounds he also held up a notice which gave details not only of the exact time of day, location of session and number of lashes with what kind of whip, but also the type of film used in the camera and the exposure and aperture. Whenever he went on tour he took a selection of several dozen whips with him.
From Percy Grainger by John Bird (ISBN 0571117171 - OP). Photo is my European LP pressing of the classic 1959 recording by Frederick Fennell and the Eastman-Rochester "Pops" Orchestra of Grainger's music. It still is available as a CD transfer coupled with a 1965 recording by Fennell of Eric Coates' The Three Elizabeths. It is worth noting that the stunning sound on the 1959 Grainger sessions was produced by a woman, Mercury's legendary Wilma Cozart Fine. She also produced Antal Dorati's still-unbeatable Firebird for Mercury; more on that here.

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3 comments:

Pliable said...

The possibly flagellation-free Mimi Kwast went on to marry Hans Pfitzner. She was the daughter of Pfitzner's teacher at the Frankfurt Conservatory, James Kwast, who also taught Grainger -

http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=1-Gek3JP-_IC&pg=PR12&lpg=PR12&dq=mimi+kwast&source=bl&ots=-z8HfNvr07&sig=QVgwnLiHlDfKji38EDzhAaRM6o8&hl=en&ei=YL_lSbLfAsOx-QbJoZGCCQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4#PPR12,M1

http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Lib/Kwast-James.htm

Lyle Sanford, RMT said...

You often say things like the "stunning sound" of a recording. If you thought it worth a post, I'd love to hear you talk about that subject in general. For one thing, do you think players should ever play differently for live performances versus recorded performances? Do you generally prefer just a couple of mics picking up everything, as opposed to mixing a whole bunch of them into a final product? Since every venue has different acoustic properties, are there any practical suggestions for getting the best sound? Recording is as much an art as playing, so just wondering what general tips you might have.

Anonymous Soprano said...

Well. Um.

All I have to say is that this will definitely add a certain je sais quoi the next time "Country Gardens" pops up on the radio...