Author Topic: Havergal Brian.  (Read 244714 times)

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Harry

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Havergal Brian.
« on: June 09, 2007, 04:36:53 AM »
My first dip into this composer on a Naxos disc, Violin Concerto, and 18th Symphony, makes me eager for more.
So I looked on the JPC site, and found a recording of his third Symphony, and ordered that. The other Naxos recordings under Lenard I am suspect about, but if someone who knows them says oke, I am willing to explore, but there is rather a great amount of singing and sopranos, so better not.
I am eager to hear about other recordings around, to build up a collection of Brian.
Anyone willing to guide me? :)


The ones below are the ones I have, well almost, ordered the Helios today.
« Last Edit: June 09, 2007, 05:39:29 AM by Harry »

lukeottevanger

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Re: Havergal Brian.
« Reply #1 on: June 09, 2007, 05:16:31 AM »
There's quite a collection of Brian fans here - in fact, a motley crew of ex-HB Society members, of whom I am one. No time for a longer list right now, but that Helios disc is a winner. For a single rec. I'd urge you most strongly to get the EMI twofer that includes, among other things, Brian's 7-9th Symphonies, all among his finest pieces; the 8th, though, is something else: one of my very favourite of all 20th century symphonies, utterly original, concise and powerful

As for the infamous Gothic - yes, it has choirs a plenty, of course, and the odd nice bit of solo soprano vocalise, but don't let that put you off. The first three movements are like a large-scale purely orchestral late Romantic symphony in themselves, fascinating in their mainly dark, brooding moods lit by odd rays of weird sunshine, the whole certain to grab the listener strongly by the throat. Indeed, you have the composer's license to stop listening at that point if you really can't stomach the vocal stuff to follow, where the mammoth forces really kick in.

Edit - Harry, I know it was a slip of the finger, but change the name in the thread title from Havergail to Havergal! :)
« Last Edit: June 09, 2007, 05:18:33 AM by lukeottevanger »

springrite

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Re: Havergal Brian.
« Reply #2 on: June 09, 2007, 05:19:09 AM »
Brian's most famous work, and the one work that Brian fans consider to be a great masterpiece, is his symphony #1, known as Gothic. As a big fan of much of Brian's music, I must admit I hear nothing in that work whatsoever. Maybe it is my loss. But anyway, the other symphonies I have heard (around 8 or 10 of them) are all uneven within each work but overall very very good. I personally would not hesitate to get more. At least this guy is not boring (something English composers of the same period has often been accused of), with moments of wonder in many of his works and the occasional touch of genius.

Get what you can. He certainly deserves far more attention than many of the composers no one has ever heard of in you huge collecion!

Harry

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Re: Havergal Brian.
« Reply #3 on: June 09, 2007, 05:41:02 AM »
There's quite a collection of Brian fans here - in fact, a motley crew of ex-HB Society members, of whom I am one. No time for a longer list right now, but that Helios disc is a winner. For a single rec. I'd urge you most strongly to get the EMI twofer that includes, among other things, Brian's 7-9th Symphonies, all among his finest pieces; the 8th, though, is something else: one of my very favourite of all 20th century symphonies, utterly original, concise and powerful

As for the infamous Gothic - yes, it has choirs a plenty, of course, and the odd nice bit of solo soprano vocalise, but don't let that put you off. The first three movements are like a large-scale purely orchestral late Romantic symphony in themselves, fascinating in their mainly dark, brooding moods lit by odd rays of weird sunshine, the whole certain to grab the listener strongly by the throat. Indeed, you have the composer's license to stop listening at that point if you really can't stomach the vocal stuff to follow, where the mammoth forces really kick in.

Edit - Harry, I know it was a slip of the finger, but change the name in the thread title from Havergail to Havergal! :)

Blimey, yes saw that, and corrected it. :-[
Will incorperate the EMI recordings, also the advice of Sarge! :)

Harry

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Re: Havergal Brian.
« Reply #4 on: June 09, 2007, 05:42:09 AM »

Get what you can. He certainly deserves far more attention than many of the composers no one has ever heard of in you huge collecion!


 ;D ;D ;D

Offline Sergeant Rock

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Re: Havergal Brian.
« Reply #5 on: June 09, 2007, 06:27:27 AM »
My first dip into this composer on a Naxos disc, Violin Concerto, and 18th Symphony, makes me eager for more.
So I looked on the JPC site, and found a recording of his third Symphony, and ordered that. The other Naxos recordings under Lenard I am suspect about, but if someone who knows them says oke, I am willing to explore, but there is rather a great amount of singing and sopranos, so better not.

Only two Brian symphonies employ female yodelers: avoid the Fourth and the Gothic (...if you must) and purchase the rest with confidence. The thing about Brian is: you have very little choice...well, no choice really. But all the performances I own (and I think I have everything that's been released on LP and CD) are at least competent and let you hear the music. We Brian fanatics pray daily that some sympathetic conductor on Brian's wave-length, with a great orchestra, will take up the challenge. But, like the Second Coming, I'm not going to hold my breath until it happens. In the meantime, I'll take anything I can get.

By the way, I completely agree with Luke. The first three (purely orchestral) movements of the Gothic can make a satisfying whole. Everyone needs to hear that Vivace!

Sarge
« Last Edit: June 12, 2007, 05:00:20 AM by Sergeant Rock »
the phone rings and somebody says,
"hey, they made a movie about
Mahler, you ought to go see it.
he was as f*cked-up as you are."
                               --Charles Bukowski, "Mahler"

Offline Sergeant Rock

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Re: Havergal Brian.
« Reply #6 on: June 09, 2007, 06:31:31 AM »
Brian's most famous work, and the one work that Brian fans consider to be a great masterpiece, is his symphony #1, known as Gothic. As a big fan of much of Brian's music, I must admit I hear nothing in that work whatsoever.

BE GONE, UNBELIEVER!!!

Sarge

P.S. Seriously, not even the Vivace moved you?
the phone rings and somebody says,
"hey, they made a movie about
Mahler, you ought to go see it.
he was as f*cked-up as you are."
                               --Charles Bukowski, "Mahler"

Harry

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Re: Havergal Brian.
« Reply #7 on: June 09, 2007, 06:32:26 AM »
Only two Brian symphonies employ yodelers: avoid the Fourth and the Gothic (...if you must) and purchase the rest with confidence. The thing about Brian is: you have very little choice...well, no choice really. But all the performances I own (and I think I have everything that's been released on LP and CD) are at least competent and let you hear the music. We Brian fanatics pray daily that some sympathetic conductor on Brian's wave-length, with a great orchestra, will take up the challenge. But, like the Second Coming, I'm not going to hold my breath until it happens. In the meantime, I'll take anything I can get.

By the way, I completely agree with Luke. The first three (purely orchestral) movements of the Gothic can make a satisfying whole. Everyone needs to hear that Vivace!

Sarge

Right Sarge, I will act on your and others advice is just doing that. I have seen that he is poorly represented in the catalogue, but what there is I will buy. Were to find the EMI set in Europe is still a question for me, since I am not aquainted with Amazon, and never bought there my cd's.
So have to find out how to do that.

Larry Rinkel

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Re: Havergal Brian.
« Reply #8 on: June 09, 2007, 09:02:59 AM »
BE GONE, UNBELIEVER!!!

Sarge

P.S. Seriously, not even the Vivace moved you?

Maybe it moved him to exit the room . . . .

Offline Bonehelm

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Re: Havergal Brian.
« Reply #9 on: June 09, 2007, 10:32:13 AM »
His gothic symphony is quite possibly the only work in the repertoire that can stand up to Mahler's eighth in terms of scale and mass...

lukeottevanger

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Re: Havergal Brian.
« Reply #10 on: June 09, 2007, 10:41:07 AM »
Except it isn't in the repertoire, unfortunately! But on those two measures, it more than outdoes Mahler 8, as far as that matters. They come from the same 'place', of course (Brian was even planning to set the same section of Goethe's Faust in the Finale, before the Te Deum 'pushed itself forwards'), but Brian also outdoes Mahler by Gustav's own standards, in creating a symphony that 'like the world, has everything', from Victoria to Varese
« Last Edit: June 09, 2007, 10:45:16 AM by lukeottevanger »

Offline Bonehelm

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Re: Havergal Brian.
« Reply #11 on: June 09, 2007, 11:46:27 AM »
Except it isn't in the repertoire, unfortunately! But on those two measures, it more than outdoes Mahler 8, as far as that matters. They come from the same 'place', of course (Brian was even planning to set the same section of Goethe's Faust in the Finale, before the Te Deum 'pushed itself forwards'), but Brian also outdoes Mahler by Gustav's own standards, in creating a symphony that 'like the world, has everything', from Victoria to Varese

Whatever, I'm sure Mahler is the more respected composer.

springrite

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Re: Havergal Brian.
« Reply #12 on: June 09, 2007, 05:41:49 PM »
BE GONE, UNBELIEVER!!!

Sarge

P.S. Seriously, not even the Vivace moved you?

I only went as far as the Vivace twice, by which time I was already spent.

His gothic symphony is quite possibly the only work in the repertoire that can stand up to Mahler's eighth in terms of scale and mass...

That is the problem for me. I was it to be able to stand up to Mahler's 8th in terms other than just scale and mass!

johnQpublic

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Re: Havergal Brian.
« Reply #13 on: June 09, 2007, 07:57:40 PM »
Brian sucks.

Offline Bonehelm

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Re: Havergal Brian.
« Reply #14 on: June 09, 2007, 08:25:55 PM »
Brian sucks.

Didn't need you to make him worse.

Offline Christo

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Re: Havergal Brian.
« Reply #15 on: June 09, 2007, 10:19:35 PM »
I only went as far as the Vivace twice, by which time I was already spent.
That is the problem for me. I was it to be able to stand up to Mahler's 8th in terms other than just scale and mass!

Well, then. Here is yet another voice that feels urged to declare solemnly:
1. That in his opinion Brian's Gothic outshines Mahler's Thousand in all respects mentioned already, but first and for all musically;
2. That the first free, purely orchestral, movements are all superb, but that the third one, Vivace, stands for nothing less but sheer wizardry: some of the best orchestral music ever written. Oh, please try it again. It's the only musical equivalent I ever encountered of another experience of pure bliss: descending the Swiss-Italian Alps after a long climb (by bike), heading to the south. 
… music is not only an `entertainment’, nor a mere luxury, but a necessity of the spiritual if not of the physical life, an opening of those magic casements through which we can catch a glimpse of that country where ultimate reality will be found.    RVW, 1948

Harry

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Re: Havergal Brian.
« Reply #16 on: June 09, 2007, 11:23:54 PM »
Well, then. Here is yet another voice that feels urged to declare solemnly:
1. That in his opinion Brian's Gothic outshines Mahler's Thousand in all respects mentioned already, but first and for all musically;
2. That the first free, purely orchestral, movements are all superb, but that the third one, Vivace, stands for nothing less but sheer wizardry: some of the best orchestral music ever written. Oh, please try it again. It's the only musical equivalent I ever encountered of another experience of pure bliss: descending the Swiss-Italian Alps after a long climb (by bike), heading to the south. 

Calm down my friend I will try it, all of it, honestly! ;D
And Paul too, he was just a tad tired when he listen twice to the Vivace. ;D

lukeottevanger

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Re: Havergal Brian.
« Reply #17 on: June 10, 2007, 01:23:13 AM »
I only went as far as the Vivace twice, by which time I was already spent.

That is the problem for me. I was it to be able to stand up to Mahler's 8th in terms other than just scale and mass!

This really surprises me, Paul. The first 3 movements of the Gothic are not hugely long, nor are they at all difficult listening - they are rugged and hard-bitten but intensely evocative in tone, I think. To be perfectly honest, I think they stand up to Mahler 8 well on pretty much every level; in fact I think that they surpass it on most, though take that in the context that Mahler 8 is IMO Mahler's least attractive work by some distance.

The second, choral part of the Gothic is a different matter; though it is the part which has led to the Mahler 8 comparison, I think that in reality it is a more original structure, and one where comparisons are more difficult to draw. It is like a stylistic vortex, which sucks in more and more of the world until the last 5 minutes leave one reeling as they lurch from one stylistic and dynamic extreme to the other without any loss of congruity or coherence - the music is held together by sheer strength of mind and conviction. I don't know anything else like this achievement in all music, and it makes Mahler 8 look pretty conventional in comparison.

Offline Guido

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Re: Havergal Brian.
« Reply #18 on: June 10, 2007, 02:24:59 AM »
So which recording Gothic to we recommend? If there is more than one recording? - I have only seen the Naxos one, but have never heard a note of his music.

He wrote a cello concerto very late in his career (1966) which I believe has only been played and broadcast once. I'd like to hear that as well.
Geologist.

The large print giveth, and the small print taketh away

Offline BachQ

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Re: Havergal Brian.
« Reply #19 on: June 10, 2007, 03:36:07 AM »
So which recording Gothic to we recommend? If there is more than one recording? - I have only seen the Naxos one, but have never heard a note of his music.

He wrote a cello concerto very late in his career (1966) which I believe has only been played and broadcast once. I'd like to hear that as well.

1 performance, 2 recordings.

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