Havergal Brian: Symphonies Nos. 11 & 15

Havergal Brian: Symphonies Nos. 11 & 15

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by Adrian Leaper
     
 

The packed-to-the-gills music of British composer Havergal Brian is an acquired taste, but the occasional recordings of his 32 symphonies, many of them written when he was well beyond 80 years old, continue to reveal music that at the very least incorporates its influences (Elgar, Mahler, See more details below

Overview

The packed-to-the-gills music of British composer Havergal Brian is an acquired taste, but the occasional recordings of his 32 symphonies, many of them written when he was well beyond 80 years old, continue to reveal music that at the very least incorporates its influences (Elgar, Mahler, William Walton) rather than aping them. In much of Brian's mature music an essentially conservative musical language is subverted by sheer density and motivic subtlety. Among Brian's champions was Leopold Stokowski, who programmed Brian's "Symphony No. 6" when both were 91 years old; it would have been nice to hear that performance, for the two artists share a certain extremity of style that seems Romantic but ultimately is distinctively modern. These performances by conductor Adrian Leaper, Brian's contemporary champion, with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland are sympathetic if not quite smooth technically. After a rather melodramatic early "Concert Overture: For Valour" (based on a Walt Whitman program and closely analyzed in a booklet that will be worth the price of the album for Brian fans and students), the fun begins with a bizarre variation-like "Comedy Overture: Doctor Merryheart," a piece of program music based on thoroughly imaginary ideas. The central attractions are the "Symphony No. 11" and "Symphony No. 15," composed in 1954 and 1960, respectively. Both of these works are light and relaxed in spirit, but on closer listening they begin to reveal derivation from a quite restricted set of motivic cells. Sample the music for awhile to see whether you find it scattered and how you feel about the rather screechy mid-'90s sound (the album was originally recorded for Marco Polo and later reissued by Naxos). But don't be surprised if you become the latest Brian addict.

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Product Details

Release Date:
07/27/2010
Label:
Naxos
UPC:
0747313201471
catalogNumber:
8572014
Rank:
325979

Tracks

  1. Symphony No. 15 in A major  - Havergal Brian  - Tony Rowe  -  RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra
  2. Symphony No. 11  - Havergal Brian  - Adrian Leaper  -  RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra
  3. Doctor Merryheart  - Havergal Brian  - Adrian Leaper  -  RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra
  4. For Valor, for organ & orchestra  - Havergal Brian  - Tony Rowe  -  RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra

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Album Credits

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