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CD Review

Orchestrations by Sir Henry Wood

London Philharmonic Orchestra/Nicholas Braithwaite
Lyrita SRCD216 79m DDD
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A curious anecdote reproduced in the programme notes recounts Wood's attribution of his orchestrations to a fictional composer called Paul Klenovsky due to the fact that he was afraid of the often unjust criticism attributed to his works. These are unashamedly big bond, romanticized orchestrations of works that have established a firm hold in the repertoire.

Bach's 'Toccata and Fugue sings with majestic beauty, slightly different to Stokowski's perhaps more opulent version but this is a valid contribution to the Bach organ canon nonetheless.

Chopin's Funeral March is imbued with solemnity and dignity whilst the delightful dances by Scharwenka and Granados come alive in their rich orchestrations. We also have another funeral march in the shape of Grieg's tribute to the poet Rikaard Nordraak and Debussy's 'Engulfed Cathedral', a striking orchestration of one of his piano preludes.

Mussorgsky's 'Pictures at an Exhibition' has been immortally orchestrated by Ravel but Wood's version holds its own extremely well and really should be incorporated into the basic repertoire or at least played more often.

Braithwaite and his London Symphony play all works with utter conviction and this tribute to one of the great conductors of the past should be snapped up without delay. Lewis Foreman's brilliantly evocative notes are also essential reading and Lyrita's recording is top drawer quality.

Copyright © 2007, Gerald Fenech