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Ragtimes & Habaneras

by James - 17:58 on 27 March 2010

I first came across Henze’s Ragtimes & Habaneras when Grimethorpe recorded it for Decca in the mid-1970s coupled with Elgar Howarth’s Fireworks, Garden Rain by Toru Takemitsu, and Grimethorpe Aria by Harrison Birtwistle.

It has, for a long time now, been a favourite of mine and I was delighted when I discovered that one of my favourite bands, Stanshawe, had recorded it.

I’ve been listening to it a lot over the past few weeks, oddly enough coupling it with the truncated version of the Enigma Variations by Elgar.

Although generally opposed to the "bleeding chunks" approach to classical transcriptions, I do find the contest edition of Eric Ball's arrangement of Enigma surprisingly satisfying both in scale and in the depth of the journey it takes you on.  Listening to it, there is no sense of loss for the omitted variations.  Quite the contrary, it seems to make its own, entirely satisfactory whole.











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