Percy Grainger is a distinctive figure in the history of classical music and piano playing, an odd mix of blazing talent and homespun musical naivete. From his piano transcriptions gathered here on this CD there is no doubt about his ability to get around the keyboard, or his extraordinarily wide-ranging musical tastes. His musical treatments encompass everything from William Byrd to George Gershwin, with varying degrees of success as far as taste and appropriateness are concerned, but always with captivating virtuosity and an unerring ear for effective piano sonority. One half-smiles, half-cringes at the startling harmonies in which a Dowland lute piece is clothed, for example; on the other hand, the sugar-spun embroidery he lavishes on his version of the first-act duet from Der Rosenkavalier is entirely appropriate to the original.
Piers Lane performs all of this frequently finger-breaking music with digital dexterity and loving care, though some of the more demanding passages come off as cautious rather than coruscating. There can be no doubt about the quality of the recorded sound, however, or the beautiful sounds of the Fazioli piano he uses. All in all, this particular out-of-the way corner of the repertory has been given the deluxe treatment on this CD.