The music of Percy Grainger did not fare well during the period of modernist hegemony over concert programs, but now that that has fallen like the Berlin Wall, wonderful music is emerging and being recorded. The pieces for wind band performed here (ably, by the Royal Norwegian Navy Band under Bjarte Engeset) mostly exist in other versions, but these for wind band are absolutely distinctive. Consider the instrumentation, for example: the steel marimba in the Faroese folk song arrangement Let's Dance Gay in Green Meadow, or the absolutely delightful Bell Piece, which Grainger termed a "free ramble" on John Dowland's Now, O now I needs must part (other composers do not have to make up their own genres!). The song appears in a loose version in the voice, and midway through the wind band takes over, with Swiss handbells as a kind of background shading. Elsewhere there are examples of the more common Grainger genres: English folk songs, arrangements of contrapuntal pieces by Bach, Franck, and Fauré, the originally choral Marching Song of Democracy, in which the winds already played a big part. There is not a dull moment anywhere, and one excitedly awaits Vol. 2.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
Bell Piece (ramble on J. Dowland's 'Now, O now I needs must part') (version for voice and wind ensemble)
Faeroe Island Dance Settings - No. 1, Let's Dance Gay in Green meadow 'Faeroe Island Dance' (version for wind ensemble)