July 14, 2024
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Southern Harmony

The British folk-song settings of Percy Grainger are held in particularly high esteem in the wind band repertoire, and deservedly so. Donald Grantham, in his brilliant Southern Harmony , bestows a similarly innovative and ingenious treatment to American folk-based material. The work consists of settings of four tunes taken from the shaped-noted songbook Southern Harmony and Musical Companion , compiled in 1835 by William Walker. Like Grainger before him, Grantham arranges the material with bold, exotic harmonies, innovative melodic and rhythmic treatments, novel instrumental effects (the chorus of hand clappers in the third movement is especially delightful), and vividly colorful orchestrations. The highlight of the work (and this disc) is the second movement, an absolutely heart-wrenching setting (and performance) of Wondrous Love . The Ohio State musicians play their collective hearts out and conductor Mikkelson shapes the movement with a loving hand, wringing every last drop of emotion out of the music. If this does not give you goose-bumps, nothing will.

Fanfare Magazine