Didn’t realize it but I’ve actually had this album (recorded in 2011) for a couple of years now; bought it for Ralph Vaughan Williams’s exquisite “The Lark Ascending”, back when John Wilson was just one of those English names to me. This piece though—what absolutely delicious music. I can’t describe what an almost erotic thrill this layer cake of an overture gives me, especially knowing who’s at the baton.
“Country Gardens” is one of the few piano pieces I could play all the way through (clumsily, not like the fine player in this clip) so I have a special affection for Grainger’s arrangements and compositions, as well as an admiration for his drive to create a truly “English” school of music. (The drive, not the goal.) I also liked that he married his wife at the Hollywood Bowl after conducting a concert there in 1928.
But ever since music school I’ve also known about Grainger’s unusual sexual drive—his taste for Nordic blondes and being flagellated—plus the fact that in his twenties he was kept as a semi-willing love slave by a fortyish society dame (shades of Joan Crawford!)—and I can’t deny it: The fantasy of pleasuring, of possessing a boy like this, talented and handsome, is delicious.