Author Topic: Havergal Brian.  (Read 244738 times)

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Offline cilgwyn

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Re: Havergal Brian.
« Reply #1460 on: July 17, 2011, 11:51:22 AM »
It's JUST finished! BRAVO! ENCORE! ENCORE!

Online springrite

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Re: Havergal Brian.
« Reply #1461 on: July 17, 2011, 12:38:28 PM »
It's JUST finished! BRAVO! ENCORE! ENCORE!

Play it again, Sam.
Do what I must do, and let what must happen happen.

Offline cilgwyn

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Re: Havergal Brian.
« Reply #1462 on: July 17, 2011, 12:59:38 PM »
And,thanks to the wonders of...ahem....dolby cassette tape technology I'm getting my encore! (No detectable wow and flutter audible,so far,thank goodness,can't hear any hiss & lovely wide ranging sound) Have to say,the audience seem a lot quieter than those present at the Boult performance (less smokers now?) and very considerate. A nice long pause before the applause after that famously quiet ending.
One awful disaster,however.Human error! Something came up as usual & I missed the first couple of minutes (Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagh!),but I got the latter half of the first movement and everything else including the (un)groovy retro side breaks. This deck automatically records on side 2,of course, and I await with baited breath to see how well it performed.
« Last Edit: July 17, 2011, 01:05:08 PM by cilgwyn »

Online springrite

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Re: Havergal Brian.
« Reply #1463 on: July 17, 2011, 01:04:16 PM »
No worry. It seems traditional that some of the most legendary bookleg recordings have the first two minutes missing.
Do what I must do, and let what must happen happen.

Offline cilgwyn

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Re: Havergal Brian.
« Reply #1464 on: July 17, 2011, 01:11:46 PM »
Yes,it wouldn't be the same without a cock up.would it? Though,unlike some of the recordings I made when I was young,you don't have those bit's where I'm desperately trying to improve the reception by moving the aerial around!
And it hasn't even chewed the tape up....... yet.
Actually,the recording sounds pretty impressive to my ears........ah,that's the bit where someone seems to have dropped something. That sounds pretty impressive too!!!!
A Nakamichi or Audacity it's certainly not,but I wish to god I'd had a tape deck like this when I was eighteen.
And now I have........in 2011!
Hope I'm not making anyone too jealous with my 'hi-tech' set up?
« Last Edit: July 17, 2011, 01:24:36 PM by cilgwyn »

Offline Klaatu

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Re: Havergal Brian.
« Reply #1465 on: July 17, 2011, 01:26:18 PM »
Well, what a musical weekend it's been for me!

1) Played my first ever live gig on cigar box guitar at the local blues festival. First time I'd ever played, or sung, in public. Managed to remember all the words to Riot in Cell Block Number 9!

2) Had my gob well and truly smacked by the Proms Gothic. So many superlatives in this performance it's hard to know where to begin, but I think the ultimate accolade was when my missus walked in midway through the broadcast with my supper of egg and chips (she knew it'd be impossible to drag me away from the radio). I mumbled something along the lines of "If this doesn't make Brian's reputation, nothing will", to which she replied "Well, it sounds really good to me!"

Believe me, really good is not a phrase my wife often uses about music. HB - you've arrived, mate!

I'm too overawed to marshall my thoughts at the moment but I'll sleep on it and come back to the Forum next week. Suffice it to say that I simply cannot comprehend how a work of such power - and one which garners such tumultuous applause after a live performance - could ever be sidelined by the nation that gave birth to its composer. Shame on the British musical establishment!!!

And you guys who were there - I envy you. A milestone in your musical lives, no doubt.

Offline cilgwyn

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Re: Havergal Brian.
« Reply #1466 on: July 17, 2011, 01:35:51 PM »
It IS mind boggling,and I'm pretty sure their's will be boggled too (if mine is,they must be on some higher level of consciousness,by now!).
The other good news is the repeat next Tuesday afternoon,at 2pm. So I get another chance to record that first movement complete.
YIPEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEH!

Stop Press: The deck managed the change to side 2,beautifully. Although,for one brief moment the recording level seemed to have a slight problem with coping with the demands of the 'Judex' at full throttle....then it quickly returned to normal. I think I will set the level a little lower for the repeat.
« Last Edit: July 17, 2011, 01:42:50 PM by cilgwyn »

Offline Guido

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Re: Havergal Brian.
« Reply #1467 on: July 17, 2011, 01:50:42 PM »
What's the verdict from those that were there!!!?! I guess we need to wait for people to get back home! So sad that I missed it, there we are though.

Will this Gothic be released on CD like they did with the Foulds World Requiem?
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Offline John Whitmore

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Re: Havergal Brian.
« Reply #1468 on: July 17, 2011, 02:31:09 PM »
I managed to get a recording over the internet. Not checked it all through but it's complete and the quality is good.

Offline cilgwyn

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Re: Havergal Brian.
« Reply #1469 on: July 17, 2011, 02:35:08 PM »
I'm sure we'll hear from them! I can hardly wait to hear what they have to say.
As to a cd release. I think Johan mentioned that the Havergal Brian Society were trying to get a release organised. I hope they succeed. As to Chandos,so far,anyway,a 'deafening' silence. Maybe some other cd label will oblige.
I have to say I have enjoyed this performance more than any other,and that includes my personal favourite,the Schmidt (another one I wish they would release on cd,or someone would upload!).
« Last Edit: July 17, 2011, 03:06:49 PM by cilgwyn »

Offline Luke

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Re: Havergal Brian.
« Reply #1470 on: July 17, 2011, 03:23:48 PM »
Intrepid Gothicista logging in....

that was just INCREDIBLE

I have so, so much to write about that peformance, so many things struck me from first note to last. I stood there rooted to the spot, forgetting to breathe. There was just NO slack in this piece. Not for a second. I had the great happiness to meet Brian, Johan and Colin (and see the back of Jeffrey's head!) - Johan remarked to me on the incredible tautness of the piece; Brian on how he'd expected something sloppy and sprawling. Not a bit. From first to last, the thing was utterly rivetting, it had my attention for every note. At some point in the Judex I realised - goodness, it's almost over already. I could happily have stood through it again and again.

Lots and lots to say - visually, there were stunning, beautiful moments - as the lights came up on the choirs in the last chords of movement 3, revealing this mountainous wall of voices right to the very top of the dome; at the same point, as the choirs suddenly, in unison, all flipped open their scores! Much more beautiful than it sounds. he things I have always felt a little apologetic about - the hugeness of the sound meaning that details are lost in the gint choral tuttis - simply weren't there in performance; the spatial effects were spellbinding and everything became magically clear.

Brabbins was utterly superb. His way of marking climxes were perfect;the articulations he brought from his forces sparklingly new and precise; he interjected pauses at just the right points. Thins I already knew about the piece became dramatically more 'real' in the flesh - formal balances and so on - and I think this was down to him as much as anything. At the end, on the last eternal E major his baton dropped infinitely slowly down to the score, and then with a flick of his fingers the sound was extinguished. And then he held his hand there for what seemed an eternity. A magic, perfect moment. Finally the applause errupted, as tuumultuous as I've ever heard, and at least as long as the first movement  ;D The guy behind Brian and I - who was responsible for the loudest whopping and hollering! - said, 'well, that's the best Prom of the year, then.' And I think he was surely right.

Lots more to say, but it'll keep till tomorrow. I didn't take my score in in the end, I left it in the car, but mentally I marked dozens of places which I thought were just perfect, and I might go through them tomorrow. The only negatives, for me - one, down in the arena the orchestral sound was quite flat, because the ranking was mostly reserved for the choirs. This became less of a problem as the piece wore on, though. Two - David Goode, at the organ, had to support the choirs lightly in some of the trickier sections of the Judex and the at last In te, Domine,  (the men, mostly, I think), and I rather wish he hadn't, because I think they would have managed, and it was a little obtrusive, in what is, after all supposed to be a capella singing.

One more thing - more than once, the performance brought tears to my eyes. And not for sentimental 'I've loved this piece for so long' reasons. Just because it was so magnificent. As the choirs swept in, at the climax of the Judex, at the very end, my eyes were moistening. I can admit it.

Surely the greatest concert I will ever go to.

Offline Brian

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Re: Havergal Brian.
« Reply #1471 on: July 17, 2011, 03:39:50 PM »
Even if Luke hadn't just made that eloquent post all I'd really have to say tonight is...

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

More will be written when I start remembering adjectives  ;D

Offline Guido

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Re: Havergal Brian.
« Reply #1472 on: July 17, 2011, 03:48:11 PM »
Now I'm really sad I didn't go. I was stuck at a pretty ropey ROH young artists matinee. :(
Geologist.

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Offline J. Z. Herrenberg

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Re: Havergal Brian.
« Reply #1473 on: July 17, 2011, 03:57:12 PM »
I am back in the hotel. What a night! Luke, as usual, has already written a beautiful review that makes a lot of points I can only agree with.
  
  My sister and I arrived in the nick of time - just as Martyn Brabbins came on to a welcoming applause, we took our seats. I sat next to Colin (Dundonnell), and later, after the concert, I happened to spot Luke and Brian.
  
  Back to The Gothic. I wonder what the sound engineers have done with the music - the Albert Hall acoustic isn't great. The music doesn't envelop you. And that's a pity. But on to the work again! As I said to Luke - the Gothic is very taut, it doesn't outstay its welcome, it keeps the energy going in every bar, there is no slack. Brabbins conducted the work with a clear vision of what he wanted, what the work's overall shape was. I think it was music critic and HBS member Richard Whitehouse who said to me that Brabbins saw the final choral passage - In te, Domine, speravi - as the goal of the piece, and shaped the whole trajectory accordingly. It paid off. As Luke says, Brabbins articulated the whole immense edifice in the most satisfying manner.
  
  Brian is a visceral composer. There are moments in The Gothic where you are almost physically shaken by the musical happenings. Whilst listening, I became more and more amazed at Brian's self-discipline and clarity of vision, writing this work with no prospect of performance.
  
  Okay, it's getting late. My respect for the artist Havergal Brian has risen. It was already very great, but this performance clinched it.
  
  Havergal Brian is, indubitably, one of the greatest British composers.
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Offline Guido

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Re: Havergal Brian.
« Reply #1474 on: July 17, 2011, 04:13:20 PM »
The Royal Albert Hall is maybe the worst concert hall I have ever been to. I hate it! Was underwhelmed by the Ives 4 (another one of these everything bar the kitchen sink works) I saw a few years ago, and hearing soloists is just hopeless in there. That it should house the greatest classical music festival in the world is a travesty. It needs torching.
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Offline Brian

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Re: Havergal Brian.
« Reply #1475 on: July 17, 2011, 04:49:26 PM »
An electronic message from Texas!!!

Quote
Subj: Did you enjoy your concert?

...because we sure did!  Alex [my brother] re-routed BBC Radio through his UK server, brought in two speakers from the garage and boomed it out of his computer, through the speakers and into the living room.  It was a powerful piece.  I really did not have high expectations at the beginning, thinking if it's 2 hours, this guy does not know how to edit, but wow, was I surprised!  All three of us sat in the living room, listening and doing our work on our respective laptops.  It must have been an unforgettable experience to be there to see it.  I can't even imagine that many musicians in one place.  The commentator kept listing all the different orchestras, choirs etc. and I thought he'd be better off listing who was at home today and not playing.

I was astounded that the piece was as cohesive and organic as long as it was.  You'd think the composer would kind of lose sight of his themes, his mood, his thought process with something of this magnitude but no, he sure didn't.  We were all amazed and mesmerized.  What an incredible symphony!

Mom

This was the absolute best part of my night, bar none.  :)

Offline TheGSMoeller

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Re: Havergal Brian.
« Reply #1476 on: July 17, 2011, 04:59:48 PM »
Was looking up "Gothic" recordings and of course Wikipedia showed up in my Google search, decided to read up a little more on the piece and it's already been updated, thought you would enjoy this...

The work was performed at the Proms on 17 July 2011 under Martyn Brabbins, with Susan Gritton soprano, Christine Rice mezzo-soprano, Peter Auty tenor, Alastair Miles bass, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra Youth Chorus, Eltham College Boys' Choir, Southend Boys' and Girls' Choirs, Bach Choir, BBC National Chorus of Wales, Brighton Festival Chorus, CŰr Caerdydd, Huddersfield Choral Society, London Symphony Chorus, BBC Concert Orchestra and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. The performance sold out on the first day of ticket sales.[6] It was enthusiastically received by the audience, with noisy applause (even by Proms standards) lasting several minutes.[/b]

Philip Legge

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Re: Havergal Brian.
« Reply #1477 on: July 17, 2011, 06:27:26 PM »
The advantage of hearing the work at 4am (and the only one, when considered against the penalty of not having been there!) is that itís now just gone midday, and that has allowed me to spend a lot more time writing a good first impression, rather than having to try to fall asleep after a long evening of demanding music. After a comfortable intermission Iíve heard the work again complete (only the low-bandwidth stream, but this is still very impressive work from the sound engineers to push out live without modification), and listening to spots here and there to confirm my thoughts. The first listening had to be conducted in accordance with respect for the neighboursí slumber in the wee hours, through headphones; at 9am, the loudspeakers were pressed into service with very satisfying results (where the low end of organ tone and associated contrabass instruments could speak more freely).

The very start of the piece sounded almost clinically precise, perhaps worryingly so: Iíve typeset the first ten or so pages of the work, and know the density of the polyphony very well, so that being able to hear individual lines almost as though they had brackets drawn around them made me worry that some of the parts were being left out, their microphones not yet switched on! And the woodwind tuning at the very start (as early as bar 9, the squeaky little E flat clarinet is horribly exposed at the top of its range) sounded probably a lot more critical into the microphones than in the hall, however bad the infamous Royal Albert Hall acoustic.

Part One is there of course to warm up the orchestra, and the first movement is probably the weakest of the six: the initial harsh tuning of the woodwinds came good with the less extreme second-subject movement that begins after the concertmasterís almost pentatonic solo; the last pages introducing the full organ capping the movement grandly is always effective.

After the required break to accomodate the members of the audience suffering from consumption or emphysema (no attacca!), the Lento was measured in its march, the climaxes being given great weighty breadth. The pronounced staccato brass against sustained woodwind (which were not audible on the stream) after figure 40 puzzled me Ė but thatís how itís marked in the score, so itís the conductorís job to work out how to resolve these textural issues; it may have worked better live.

The Vivace scherzo always seems the most compelling section of the first part, from the timpani and string ostinato and the horn calls onwards, and so it proved in Brabbinís hands, I think; the unleashing of chaos at the con fuoco passage heralded by duelling timpani was wonderfully handled as the virtuoso orchestration demands. The tubas and string basses perhaps struggled to project their complicated galumphing runs as well as the woodwinds supported by the whirling xylophone. (Curiously, the balances kept readjusting themselves to keep a constant dynamic level, which was highlighting the sustained textures Ė particularly string harmonics Ė in a very odd way. I suspect if it is released on disc as a recording, the wider dynamic range will allow this section to sound more naturally balanced.) Only the Grandioso C minor climax of the march felt a little too rushed and impulsive, before the decisive switch by way of a distant modulation to F# and back to the original D minor: the contribution of both bass drums were heard, and almost felt!

The opening choruses of the Te Deum probably have never been sung better, both in the opening passage for children, womenís voices and the soloists, as well as the incredibly detailed motif-working for full chorus, with textures striking in their clear articulation through the ensemble. The pacing of the choral sections Ė which can come off disjointed was logical and assured, though I quite like the a cappella music to be even a touch slower. The choruses are not easy; and it seems unfair to criticise the chorus for pitch discrepancies, but unfortunately, the first re-entry of the orchestra (figure 76) was marred for a number of bars by the flattened entry of the basses which carried most of the choir with it. The final pages with its bold harmonic shifts that lever the Gothic up into the new elevated plane of E major which will predominate over the remainder of the work were fully luminous, beautifully sung and played.

Judex presents a new raft of challenges greater than the ones already surmounted, and Iím ambivalent about the subtle reinforcement by organ: in some places it undoubtedly helped the tuning of the notoriously difficult a cappella music; but the slippage of pitch soon ruled out the organist offering any further help, and the dislocation at the entry of the soprano soloist whose A eventually emerged the better part of a semitone higher than the choirís ďAĒ was regrettable. (In Brisbane, different methods were used to assist this passage; it stayed in pitch, but at the cost of some wayward tuning en route.) The orchestral interludes have seldom felt weightier or more menacing, but I found the entries of the four brass orchestras with their associated division of the choir a little too unrelenting. The slow starting tempo for the second interlude meant a large gear change had to occur at some point (which occurred, in fact, five bars after Brianís marking of ďPiý AllegroĒ). The final pages of Judex sounded wonderfully apocalyptic and the effect in the hall must have been much more actinic and overpowering. (The second last bar could have milked the vocal crescendo just a little further.)

The sixth movement has the most diversity and the struggle is in successfully contrasting the almost irreconcilable disparate musical elements. After the oboe díamore solo (the first of a number of prominent oboe solos in this movement), the tenor aria perhaps wanted a little more beauty in the sudden reversion to chamber-music sensibility of textured playing for its opening stanzas, before the dramatic urge takes over. The incredible celestial passage for choirs (on paper, it looks almost unrehearsable) worked its usual magic when it finally arrived into a single key. The male voice a cappella section sounded less impressive than the womenís bell-like passage, perhaps because each of the four sections of the choir sounded like there were different quantities of voices allocated. The truly weird section comprising popular-sounding clarinet march, seated choir vocalisations, Mahlerian posthorn, and truly over-the-top assertion of the major key was roof-raising, with one truly inspired bit of comic pointing by Brabbins, contrasting full forces with the jaunty little flute and clarinet tune that has small links of chains as the percussion accompaniment after a dramatic caesura.

After such enormous jollities, the aspect abruptly turns darker, and Alastair Milesí bass solo was beautifully and dramatically sung, but perhaps the tiniest bit short of the sense of desperation that the music has begun to convey and the hymnistís ďmiserereĒ suggests. The double fugue for the choir provided the last moment of calm before the storm, rising beautifully to a molto espressivo climax: if the organ was used here for reinforcement it was done most unobtrusively. About the ending, there is not much to say: the violence was unleashed (the drums entering quietly at first, which is to say, correctly), and at the last minute when all hope seemed lost, the final murmuring of the choir grounded the work securely in E major with a very long dimininuendo into nothing, and an even longer held silence (I think almost 24 seconds on my recording). If the thousand performers of the Proms Gothic were sublime in their numerousness, their repose and the rapt silence in which they were regarded by the audience was almost as incredible.

Cheers, Philip
« Last Edit: July 17, 2011, 06:29:40 PM by Philip Legge »

Philip Legge

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Re: Havergal Brian.
« Reply #1478 on: July 17, 2011, 07:18:50 PM »
As for the rest of the day (seeing as I have caffeinated myself heavily to start so early in the small hours) Iím spending it trying to plough through the 2nd half of the realisation of Sorabjiís Jāmī symphony (the third movement alone is ten minutes longer than Brabbinsí six movementsí worth of Brian!). Having ploughed through Mahlerís Eighth and Brianís First in successive years, it now seems obvious that Roger Wright must programme Sorabjiís Third for next years Proms, though he should ask the Sorabji Society if the brand spankiní new 800+ page typeset full score by David Carter is ready to go into orchestral parts yet.

I might as well confess now that Iím to blame for the very existence of an article on Wikipedia concerning the Gothic Symphony at all: naturally any faults with the article must be due, without question, to the inimical intervention of later editors.

As for the reversal of the channels on the Brisbane Gothic recordings, that is how the Internet stream was presented, with no alterations on my part. Of course I didn't notice the reversal of direction, for from where I was standing in Brisbane, the harps were on the right, and the double basses on the left.

(Please feel free to insert any necessary smileys required to obtain the levity that is otherwise weakly implied by my mock seriousness on these diverse subjects.)

Offline lescamil

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Re: Havergal Brian.
« Reply #1479 on: July 17, 2011, 08:26:43 PM »
I also managed to get an audio recording of the July 17 performance. It only begs one question, though:

WHY THE HELL WAS THIS NOT TELEVISED???!?!?

I then would have been able to download said video off the internet to savor for years to come (like many Proms past). It surely is a more momentous occasion to televise in comparison to many of the other Proms concerts that they decided to televise. I think it is something that will leave many Prommers and overseas Proms fans like myself who had no opportunity whatsoever of attending the concert left to think what it could have been like in person. A video recording would have ameliorated that somewhat.
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