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Buywell Just Classical


Danny Boy – the Immortal Irish Song: Nineteen arrangements and interpretations of Danny Boy and its melody The Londonderry Air
Arranged Frederick E Weatherley [3.39]
Paul McMahon (tenor) Andrew Greene (piano)
Arranged Percy Grainger, adapted Sean O’Boyle [4.15]
Jane Rutter (flute) Queensland Orchestra/Sean O’Boyle
Arranged Leo Arnaud [2.43]
Judy Garland/MGM Studio Orchestra/Georgie Stoll
Arranged Carlos Salzedo [3.38]
Alice Giles (harp)
Anonymous arrangers
Mario Lanza (tenor) Orchestra/Ray Sinatra [3.02]
Bing Crosby/John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra [3.20]
Arranged Percy Grainger {Irish Tune from County Derry]
Sydney Symphony Orchestra/Stuart Challender [3.57]
Arranged Fritz Kreisler [3.46]
Fritz Kreisler (violin) Victor Symphony Orchestra/Donald Voorhees
Arranged George Sigerson [as Far Away] [2.22]
Glasgow Orpheus Choir/Sir Hugh Roberton
Arranged Douglas Gamley [3.33]
Yvonne Kenny (soprano) Melbourne Symphony Orchestra/Vladimir Kamirski
Arranged Percy Grainger adapted Fiona Walsh [2.55]
Guitar Trek
Arranged Percy Grainger for piano [3.20]
Leslie Howard (piano)
Arranged Lyle Chan [3.50]
Cantillation/Paul McMahon (tenor)/Brett Weymark
Arranged Percy Grainger for orchestra [5.29]
Melbourne Symphony Orchestra/Geoffrey Simon
Arranged Percy Grainger for chorus [4.11]
Sydney Philharmonia Motet Choir/Anthony Walker
Arranged John McCormack [3.23]
John McCormack (tenor) Edwin Schneider (piano)
Arranged Larry Adler [3.09]
Larry Adler (harmonica) studio trio
Arranged Glenn Miller and Chummy MacGregor [2.20]
Glenn Miller Orchestra
Arranged Tony Gould [6.11]
Tony Gould (piano)
rec. 1935-2006
ABC CLASSICS 476 9238 [69.08]


You’d have to be very partial to this immortal tune to sit through an hour and ten minutes of it in the various arrangements, permutations, and re-clothings collated on this disc. Partial and possibly deranged – though that’s not for me to comment.

ABC has taken recordings spanning seventy years and presented solo piano, solo harp, guitar quartet, choral, tenor-and-piano, violin and the usual orchestral versions. I needn’t draw your attention to the famous names here – though it might be the first time that Sir Hugh Roberton has shared disc space with Judy Garland. At least though we get variety and if your taste for this song doesn’t embrace the Nessum Dorma-isms and MGM beef of Mario Lanza then you can listen instead to the more genuine sounds of John McCormack, whose words of course (O Mary Dear) famously bear no relation to the original.

McCormack’s discmate of olden times, Fritz Kreisler, is here with the souped-up Victor Orchestra in his declining years to essay his version – which sounds to modern ears rather impatient but most fiddlers of his generation took it quite briskly. I enjoyed Yvonne Kenny’s singing of the arrangement by Douglas Gamley – beautifully soft high notes – and the various Grainger versions for orchestra are always welcome, though these performances have been issued before.

Yes, Glenn Miller is here and his compatriot Larry Adler turns in a suitably swinging harmonica version with an anonymous studio pick up trio.  Tony Gould’s own arrangement for solo piano has a pensive impressionist hue that appeals and makes a strong contrast to Leslie Howard’s recording of the Grainger arrangement for piano. 

The notes certainly go into some historical depth regarding the origins of the song and Fred Weatherley’s place in the scheme of things. Malachy McCourt has written a study of the ballad and he is strongly quoted as to its derivation and significance. The question of Grainger’s various harmonisations of the tune is delved into and that’s useful and important given his huge place in the ballad’s popularity. I rather missed a string quartet version and would have happily done away with the guitar quartet to hear one.

A final note – only the first song was especially recorded for this disc.

Jonathan Woolf


Buywell Just Classical



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