The clandestine darkness of the cinema auditorium changes perspectives on the world. As we cosy into our cinema seat, we’re prepared to take it on trust that a Kansas farm girl can travel to a place of make-believe to meet a wizard, that Harold Lloyd can dangle out of a New York skyscraper without falling off, that six strikingly different looking men can all somehow be James Bond and, finding yourself unfortunately lumbered with a dead body, Harvey Keitel is the man to sort it: just phone him and he will ensure you get away with murder.
Everyone knows Country Gardens (based on an English Morris dance) and probably Molly on the Shore , Shepherd’s Hey , Mock Morris and Handel in the Strand . Their popularity has tended to overshadow the rest of Grainger’s prolific and varied output and though he would never be put on a pedestal to join the pantheon of immortals, he is unorthodox, original and deserves better than to be dismissed by the more snooty arbiters of musical taste. There is a tendency to overlook real craftsmanship when it is put to (sometimes) frivolous use.
Considering they had recently been duped into thinking that a Martian landing was underway by an Orson Welles radio play, you wonder quite what Americans made of Leopold Stokowski’s alternative future for sound recording, as mapped out in his 1943 book Music for All of Us . “The first step is to make music [sound] exactly like the original,” he wrote. Nothing controversial there.
A new web-site has been set up by the singer’s son, Jonathan Crown, and edited by the music-critic Michael White. And there she is: Jennifer Vyvyan, dates, career, photographs, voice. It’s a rather attenuated version of the voice that comes from the computer screen, but it’s unmistakably hers. She’s there all right, and I, to whom this is still all something of a miracle, can report the wonder of it.