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Author Topic: Havergal Brian.  (Read 310704 times)

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Offline Luke

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Re: Havergal Brian.
« Reply #1500 on: July 18, 2011, 06:52:44 AM »
Service has photos of the rehearsal:


Offline Luke

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Re: Havergal Brian.
« Reply #1501 on: July 18, 2011, 06:58:57 AM »
...and just idly clicking links turns up this long blog post, which sometimes misses the point a little, and which mishears the piece sometimes (I haven't read it all, but my eye was caught by his description of the fugue subject of the In te Dominum as 'a beutiful new idea' missing the fact that it has been heard before, and not only that, that it is in essentials the same idea as the opening of the symphony)

http://5-against-4.blogspot.com/2011/07/proms-2011-havergal-brian-symphony-no-1.html

Below is the text, but if you click on the link there are downloadable FLACs which I assume are from last night!


Quote

 Monday, 18 July 2011
Proms 2011: Havergal Brian - Symphony No. 1 'Gothic'
 
Rarely have i felt the need to prepare so thoroughly before a concert as i did prior to yesterday evening's Prom performance of Havergal Brian's Symphony No. 1 'Gothic' • Books were re-read, CDs were re-listened to, & i even re-visited the writings of John Ruskin, who wrote with such authority about the nature of Gothic • The enterprise felt similar to the preparations for a lengthy trek over difficult & taxing terrain, but such is the nature of the musical landscape of Brian's symphony • At the outset, i suppose, one must tackle the elephant in the room • Except, of course, it's nothing of the kind; for weeks on end, one commentator after another has been getting in an excited lather at the size of the Gothic Symphony • "Gosh, it needs over 1,000 players" they coo; "Wow, it's the longest symphony ever written", they gush, as though mere scale was somehow a laudable trait or even an end in itself • Brian's not alone in suffering from such witless gigantophilia; Sorabji, too, is seemingly forever spoken of in terms of the size of his output • Even Tom Service, the BBC's boy scout-in-residence, could hardly remain still in his seat at yesterday's performance, positively whooping with delight at the sheer colossality of it all • Honestly, everyone, take some deep breaths, & could someone please pass around the chill pills? •

& yet, while the scale of Brian's Gothic Symphony is of course the opposite of being all-important, it's very far from being irrelevant • The outlandishness & utter impracticality are precisely what makes the symphony deserving of the epithet 'gothic' • When Giles Gilbert Scott set about designing that other great English Gothic edifice, Liverpool's Anglican Cathedral, he knew full well that there was absolutely no need for it to be as stupendously cavernous as it is • The blatant exaggeration of its dimensions goes way beyond such a notion as mere function, instead becoming something entirely different, an integral part of its nature & character, of its architectural 'language', if you like • "This is my cathedral...", Gilbert Scott would have said; "...it exists for worship..." he might have continued, "...& it exists to be absolutely f**king huge", he probably would not have concluded (but would have agreed with the sentiment) • Set beside the Gothic Symphony, that building seems quite a close relation, but one could argue that an equally close parallel, dating from precisely the same period as the composition of the Gothic, is the utopian expressionist architecture that sprang up throughout Europe in the wake of the First World War • While no-one would describe the designs of Bruno Taut or Erich Mendelsohn as "gothic", they nonetheless demonstrate a preparedness to discard the traditions & formalities of their art if their imagination felt so inclined • Brian may have been completely unaware of these developments in Europe, but his own psychological imperative for the Gothic could well have sprung from a not dissimilar outlook • Somewhere between these two, traditionalist gigantism & fancy-free expressionism, we find the mindset that may have existed within the head of Havergal Brian around 1919 •

Around a century earlier, Berlioz showed (in his Grande messe des morts) that there really were times when you simply had to have four separate brass bands, 16 timpani & 10 pairs of cymbals (the last of which, i might add, play together for just a single note in the entire piece) • Strauss, Wagner, Mahler (late) & Schoenberg (early) clearly agreed with this sentiment, & Brian's first symphony is essentially the last in a gradual expansion of resources to ever more monumental ends • These days, with orchestras struggling even to keep going for lack of funds, such a massive entity as the Gothic Symphony seems almost a curiosity from a rather more mental time, which perhaps, in part, accounts for the excitable reactions in response to news of its imminent performance • So yes, it's big, there's no denying that, & its size is awesome & exhilarating; but ultimately, it's big for deeper & more meaningful reasons than simply to elicit gasps of amazement; its size is part & parcel of its sonic identity & expressive language •

With more than a nod to Mahler, Havergal Brian structures the symphony in two parts, each of which contains three movements • The shorter, instrumental first part, lasting around 40 minutes, is almost worthy of symphony status by itself; the much larger second part, lasting around 70 minutes, introduces the choir for a large-scale setting of one of the Church's oldest hymns, the Te Deum •

The first movement is composed with sonata form broadly in mind, but swiftly demonstrates a curious take on it • Having established a strong, martial first subject, Brian abruptly brings the orchestra to a stop, barely a minute into the piece (something he does numerous times throughout the work) • The completely contrasting second subject, almost saccharine in its sweetness, dissipates all that initial energy &, moreover, leaves the first subject a very distant memory • In short, Brian milks the second subject dry, & some minutes pass before any genuine momentum is re-established • It's worth noticing at the outset how delicate Brian is with the number of instruments at his command, often reducing the material to small groups of players, regularly allowing solo instruments space to present an idea • The structure's not merely lopsided, either; at the conclusion of the development, an entirely new theme is introduced (on oboe d'amore & bass oboe)—as sonata form goes, this is all playing pretty fast & loose with its guiding principles • But, as mentioned above, that's partly the point of a 'gothic' symphony; John Ruskin describes this very aspect in his Nature of Gothic:


“And it is one of the chief virtues of the Gothic builders that they never suffered ideas of outside symmetries and consistencies to interfere with the real use & value of what they did. If they wanted a window, they opened one; a room, they added one; a buttress, they built one; utterly regardless of any established conventionalities of external appearance, knowing (as indeed it always happened) that such daring interruptions of the formal plan would rather give additional interest to its symmetry than injure it. So that, in the best times of Gothic, a useless window would rather have been opened in an unexpected place for the sake of the surprise, than a useful one forbidden for the sake of symmetry.”
By contorting the conventions of sonata form, Havergal Brian is simply demonstrating one of the most fundamental principles of 'gothic' •

The symphony turns away from brilliance in the second movement, which begins funereally, in irregular metre • The music gradually builds, becoming increasingly forceful, even aggressive, but the sense of this being a processional is ever present • Around halfway through, an excited episode begins in hopping woodwinds & pizzicato strings; the basses & brass join in, & the whole is briefly reminiscent of Bruckner's Ninth Symphony • Nonetheless, despite all that will come later, this movement features some of the symphony's most stately & moving material • At its grandest moments, where the principal theme is writ increasingly large, the melancholy is all enveloping (a melancholy that will prove significant as the symphony progresses), an immense chorale commemorating some incomprehensible loss • Understandably, the music returns whence it began, the opening tuba motif returning to guide the movement through its soft, spent conclusion, finishing with a lonely bass clarinet at the nadir of its range •

Beginning the third movement with a distant, driving pulse on the timpani brings the symphony's opening notes to mind—&, once again, Brian no sooner establishes momentum than ruthlessly pulls the rug from under it • For a while, the instruments mooch around in the periphery, before the tubas launch an abrupt fortissimo passage that burns out after half a minute • What follows is brilliantly bizarre: a drum suggests a strange regular rhythm, ignored by the harps which focus on a leaping octave idea, while the tubas—in a passage worthy of Berlioz—descend chromatically through their pedal notes: B-flat - A - G-sharp - G • The rather wistful main theme keeps recurring, & a few minutes later, having been played twice, is answered by a deep ostinato in rough, heavy crotchets by the basses & contrabassoons • The latter half of the movement is among the most brazenly weird orchestral music you're ever likely to encounter • Out of nowhere, development begins, the orchestra seeming to fragment into a myriad shards, each picking up & running with bits of material from earlier, or, just as likely, snippets we've not yet heard • The closing minutes, fixed above a relentless, lolloping pulse, are a nerve-wracking dithyramb; the descending pedal notes return, while the xylophone seems determined to play itself to death • In now familiar fashion, Brian pulls the plug, & Part One of the Gothic Symphony closes with a quietness & delicacy that's almost a bit unnerving considering all that was happening just minutes earlier •

If the previous three movements prove to be a difficult & convoluted triptych, they are as nothing to the complexities Brian will put forth in Part Two, which begins immediately (Brian intended there to be no breaks between any of the movements) with the choir singing the opening lines of the Te Deum • The voices continue unaccompanied for a couple of minutes, yielding to the four soloists momentarily • Horn calls initiate the orchestra's return, dominated by fortissimo repeated notes, & leading to the first great tutti statement: "Te æternum Patrem omnis terra veneratur" • Melody assumes incredible importance as the movement progresses, but Brian chooses to embed them all into what is surely one of the most complex bits of polyphony ever composed • Malcolm MacDonald has described this episode better than i could, "[It] is not to say there are no recognisable tunes: there are scores of them. But they often appear no more than once; are not developed in any way; and at best have merely 'local' significance. They are the passing manifestations of a free-wheeling, untrammelled, and inexhaustibly fertile process of invention" (The Symphonies of Havergal Brian, p. 44) • For a full five minutes this dense texture is maintained, before a brief slab of fanfare heralds another unaccompanied passage, lengthy, soft & searching ("Patrem immensæ majestatis") • The return of the orchestra leads through some of the movement's most convoluted textures, becoming clarified in the repeated note motif that introduces a massive triadic yell of "Tu Rex Gloriæ Christe" • Again, the choir takes control, & while the music oscillates between dynamic extremes, some of the quieter moments are powerfully telling, such as the quiet, downward-tending melismas at "non horruisti Virginis uterum", & the final word, "Patris", causing the large tutti instantly to reduce to a more reverential tone, ending the movement •

A mere four words occupy the fifth movement: "Judex crederis esse venturus" ('we believe you will come to be our judge'), beginning in an expanding series of rich, shining clusters for the opening word • Interpolated by high writing for the solo soprano, this develops into a web of melodic invention that defies all attempts to extricate individual lines • Brian now gives the choir a lengthy rest; a brass fanfare builds, halts for a horn solo, before a huge, rather laborious orchestral episode dominated by the brass; after a few minutes of this comes one of the symphony's most momentous passages • In another tip of the hat to Berlioz, Brian has an additional four brass bands distinct from the main orchestra • One by one, together with one of the choruses, these now explore the entire four-word phrase, each rendition unique from the others; they're separated by rather grand lengthy strands of melody in the strings • Buoyed up by such bold statements, the orchestra embarks on a slow but steady crescendo towards a series of large surges; rudely curtailed, it begins again, this time with the full force of the singers on board, culminating in a dizzying, devastatingly loud tutti (the orchestra actually drowning out the organ!), the apocalypse hinted at in the text seeming rather close at hand, the closing notes made yet more frightening by the presence of a rattling bird-scare •

A little over two hours into the work, it's a little daunting to contemplate that the sixth & final movement—the longest, lasting over half an hour—still lies ahead • It opens simply enough, with a tenor aria ("Te ergo quæsumus"), supported by a quorum from the orchestra • As the tenor's line becomes increasingly fraught & chromatic, the orchestra finally overwhelms him, the brass letting rip in a full-blooded fanfarish exclamation • Calm is restored, the tenor resumes, this time leading to a new section in much faster tempo, & the return of the choir • Brian pulls things back again, this time for the soprano soloist, surrounded on all sides by plucked strings & cascading woodwinds • The choir assumes control, & leads the material to the movement's first big climax, Brian reaching for his trusty xylophone to hammer the point home • The orchestra retreats for a few minutes, the male voices providing the focus, culminating in the impassioned plea, "Salvum fac populum tuum" ('O Lord, save thy people') • The texture lightens afterward, waxing briefly, but quieting to a delightfully tonally ambiguous rendering of "Per singulos dies benedicimus te" in the upper voices • Then comes probably the most shockingly oblique shift in mood in the entire work: over a steady pulse, a jolly march-like tune is begun by the clarinets • Over many minutes, this march subsumes everyone, leading to a series of militaristic climaxes (cue the xylophone), the choir's angular melody becoming increasingly outlandish • The clarinet melody returns to quash the mood, transitioning to an emotive aria for the bass solo ("Dignare, Domine"), heavily reinforced by the strings • Interrupted by a grand brass phrase that could almost have been lifted from the last movement of Mahler's Second Symphony, the bass continues to the point where the upper voices begin a beautiful new idea at "In te, Domine speravi" ('O Lord, in thee have I trusted'), words that foretell that the end is in sight • An exquisite double fugue ensues, Brian slowly, irrevocably pushing the material in an increasingly melancholic direction; this is heard emphatically as the strings take over from the voices • The final phrase, "non confundar in aeternum" ('Never let me be confounded') is at first projected as loudly & forcefully as possible, all drums blazing, brass everywhere, but in the present context, sounds deliberately forced, its confidence shaky • Two final, desperate surges can't alter the reality of things; this symphony is going to end in a decidedly uncertain place; the heartfelt but ultimately downcast melody from, first, the cellos (a magical moment) & later a solo oboe tells a truer story • The choir's final, unaccompanied phrase ends on an emphatically major triad, suggesting that, despite such fragility, hope remains •

i have little doubt that, for so many reasons, there will be those who find Havergal Brian's Gothic Symphony to be perhaps the greatest compositional folly ever committed to paper • Its unwieldy structures, the stop-start mannerisms, the chopping & changing between disparate stylistic ideas, the gluttonous need for 1,000+ performers—all of these, & more, could be cited as evidence for a composer in search of a voice, or, at least, in search of a language • But i think that would be to misunderstand many things, not least of which Brian's undeniable originality of thought, his interpretation of what 'gothic' really means, the historical context in which he was composing, both within England & the wider world • Whatever else you might say about it, the Gothic Symphony is conclusive, indefatigable, triumphant proof that there is very, very much more to early 20th century English music than the endless parade of oratorios trotted out by our nation's keen but ultimately narrow-minded collection of choral societies •

The BBC deserves kudos upon kudos for going to the ridiculous lengths it must have required to stage the Gothic • Martyn Brabbins really ought to receive a medal for managing to martial over 1,000 performers, & while the choirs occasionally proved to be the most noticeable let-down (hearing 800+ singers go flat is rather glaring), it would be churlish to describe their achievement in such challenging music as anything but a success • But the greatest success of all must go to the anonymous engineers who managed to get the balance so incredibly right in the broadcast • This is by the far the clearest rendition of the Gothic Symphony ever heard; the Naxos recording—previously the benchmark for the work—has finally met its match •

It perhaps goes without saying that Havergal Brian still had much to learn when he composed this symphony • It was, after all, merely the first in no fewer than 32 that the composer would write through the rest of his life • It is, undoubtedly, flawed, but i think that need take nothing away from its worth & indeed its rank as a masterpiece of the symphonic form • In this regard, perhaps the final word is best left to John Ruskin:


“It seems a fantastic paradox, but it is nevertheless a most important truth, that no architecture can be truly noble which is not imperfect. [...] accurately speaking, no good work whatever can be perfect, and the demand for perfection is always a sign of misunderstanding of the ends of art.”


« Last Edit: July 18, 2011, 07:01:13 AM by Luke »

Offline Lethevich

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Re: Havergal Brian.
« Reply #1502 on: July 18, 2011, 07:35:26 AM »
I am asking myself new questions about Brian. He is a mystery I haven't yet solved, and his works partake of this. I am by no means uncritical, but I cannot but love the man and his music!

Descriptions like this remind me of the way many view Ives - yet the latter is widely respected. Ives has his hymn tunes, Brian his marches, etc.
Peanut butter, flour and sugar do not make cookies. They make FIRE.

Offline springrite

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Re: Havergal Brian.
« Reply #1503 on: July 18, 2011, 07:39:20 AM »
I will be taking the MARCO POLO recording of the Gothic with me on my lecture trip which starts in two days. I will at least give it two listenings, and possibly more if the usual flight delays and cancellations occur.
Do what I must do, and let what must happen happen.

Offline cilgwyn

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Re: Havergal Brian.
« Reply #1504 on: July 18, 2011, 07:48:11 AM »
If they hate it that much it's GOT to be good.
There's nothing worse than indifference.
I shall seal my C90 cassette recording in aspic.
(Actually,it already is!)
More reviews fuelled by contempt,please.
(They LOVE it really).

Offline springrite

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Re: Havergal Brian.
« Reply #1505 on: July 18, 2011, 07:50:21 AM »


There's nothing worse than indifference.



Amen to that!
Do what I must do, and let what must happen happen.

Offline Luke

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Re: Havergal Brian.
« Reply #1506 on: July 18, 2011, 08:33:28 AM »
Almost my only concern last night (as I said in my incoherent post after my befuddled night time drive back) was the sound in the arena in Part I. I could tell that every note was there, but there was such a flaness to the sound down there (below the orchestra, of course), and the (orchestral) brass and the winds very muted, mainly, I think, because they weren't ranked. But listening to the FLAC I've just downloaded alleviates my worries. The sound was fabulous, clearly - just not where Brian and I were standing. It is amazing. Every detail there, clear as crystal. No time to listen again all the way through now, unfortunately...

Offline Brian

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Re: Havergal Brian.
« Reply #1507 on: July 18, 2011, 08:42:52 AM »
But listening to the FLAC I've just downloaded

...from...?

Offline Luke

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Re: Havergal Brian.
« Reply #1508 on: July 18, 2011, 09:52:10 AM »
From the link in my previous post.  :)  :)  :)

Offline Brian

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Re: Havergal Brian.
« Reply #1509 on: July 18, 2011, 09:58:55 AM »
downloadable FLACs which I assume are from last night!

How much of the timing is blank/radio broadcast? The link says 1h57 min; by my watch, the performance lasted about 1h47min. Still, I have to assume it's the real deal since they also have the interview... downloading!
« Last Edit: July 18, 2011, 10:02:33 AM by Brian »

5against4

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Re: Havergal Brian.
« Reply #1510 on: July 18, 2011, 10:28:19 AM »
Hello - i just joined this fine forum (which i admit i didn't know existed) as i saw people were coming to 5:4 from here!

What do you mean by "blank/radio broadcast"? My recording starts with Tom Service's preamble & finishes at the end of the extensive applause at the end.
« Last Edit: July 18, 2011, 11:14:30 AM by 5against4 »

Offline Luke

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Re: Havergal Brian.
« Reply #1511 on: July 18, 2011, 10:57:36 AM »
It's bloody marvellous. So much etail I've never heard, and such a committed performance. It was obvious in the hall, of course, but I couldn't really hear those wind choirs properly - they are superb.

Maybe it's already been posted, but there was a nice article in the Guardian about this performance a few dyas ago

http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2011/jul/13/gothic-symphony-havergal-brian-proms?INTCMP=ILCNETTXT3487

I see our newest member is the guy who penned the lenghty blog post I cut+pasted earlier, and who put up these downloads! What good news - I hope he doesn't mind me  copying his thoughts over here, I'll delete them from my post if he wishes. And thanks to him for the downloads! I wonder if it's just coincidence that he found us, or did one of us contact him? Anyway, welcome to him - I love the name, 5against4 (and how good to hear Brian's 5 against 3 climax in the second movement in all its glory ;D )

Offline Luke

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Re: Havergal Brian.
« Reply #1512 on: July 18, 2011, 11:00:24 AM »
...and indeed I was just listening to that end of the second movement as I typed. My jaw just hit the floor at some of the sounds I was hearing.

Offline Luke

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Re: Havergal Brian.
« Reply #1513 on: July 18, 2011, 11:11:38 AM »
And btw - I realise that my brief comments regarding that long blog post might seem churlish (picking up on a couple of small things as a sad old fanatic will tend to do, and neglecting to mention all the many positives!). But I hope not, as I really didn't mean them that way - I think it's an admirable and thoughtful piece of writing, and I found myself fascinated in the Gothic-by-way-of-Ruskin angle particularly.

5against4

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Re: Havergal Brian.
« Reply #1514 on: July 18, 2011, 11:32:56 AM »
And btw - I realise that my brief comments regarding that long blog post might seem churlish (picking up on a couple of small things as a sad old fanatic will tend to do, and neglecting to mention all the many positives!). But I hope not, as I really didn't mean them that way - I think it's an admirable and thoughtful piece of writing, and I found myself fascinated in the Gothic-by-way-of-Ruskin angle particularly.

Luke, please don't trouble yourself about the churlishness; i actually found your nit-picking about a work that's simultaneously so complex & also so unfamiliar the sure-fire sign that you *must* be an expert!  ;)

i hope you don't feel i "missed the point" too greatly; as my article says, i spent no little time preparing myself for the occasion, as it's been so long since i've spent time with it. Without wishing to denigrate other reviewers, i was rather shocked to find so many of the other responses i've seen written in such a off-handedly dismissive fashion. If there's one piece you simply can't be cavalier about, it's this one.

Offline Brian

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Re: Havergal Brian.
« Reply #1515 on: July 18, 2011, 11:42:01 AM »
What do you mean by "blank/radio broadcast"? My recording starts with Tom Service's preamble & finishes at the end of the extensive applause at the end.

Just downloaded, put it on and ascertained the truth. Thanks!

Offline Luke

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Re: Havergal Brian.
« Reply #1516 on: July 18, 2011, 11:42:25 AM »
@ 5:4

No, I'm feeling foolish myself - thank you for your generous post! At first I found the Ruskin idea to be a bit of a red-herring, with my stuck-in-the-mud idea of the piece and what the title means or doesn't mean. But then - as I said more recently - actually reading what you said, I realied you had a very good point. So I'm sorry for misjuding it!And the other bit was just the small point about that wonderful In te Domine double fugue. It's always been, for me, the crux of the work, that, but it's a passage that is relatively rarely mentioned. It was great to hear Johan, last night, after the concert, saying exactly the same thing. And IMO what is wonderful about that fugue - apart from it's sheer perfect beauty, and it's pinpoint placing in the structure of the whole  after the business is done, and before hell is unleashed - is the discrete reference it makes to the fundamental 'ur' idea of the work: the rising minor third, and the extension of this idea, the rising minor third which fallas back and then rses a fifth. It is as if here Brian is encapsulating a great deal in this glorious quasi-Renaissance chorus, so soft and yet so massive, imbued with the weight of everything that has gone before and preparing in some miraculous way for the brutal onslaught that follows. And its that minor third motive that does this, I think.

Anyway, a more formal welcome - I hope you stick around! And thank you for providing the first links I found to the stupendous recording I am still listening to. I will never forget the experience of being in the hall last night, but this souvenir of the concert is more than just that, since it lets me hear things with a clarity I coulnd't have at the time! There are a few clunks, obviously, and I still wish Goode hadn't used the organ to support the choirs. But this is th Gothic to hear, now, I think  :)

Offline Luke

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Re: Havergal Brian.
« Reply #1517 on: July 18, 2011, 11:49:10 AM »
...and I couldn't agree more with your second paragraph above, either. This is the sad but amusing spectacle of music critics coming up against a piece which they feel they must find something terrible in, and just looking hopelessly out-of-touch in the attempt. It's amusing to see the critical 'experts' pontificating but making errors about the piece all over the place (today I learnt that there are only two brass bands in the symphony, so my score and my eyes and ears must be wrong....) when the audience is chock full of peple who know the (apparently unmemorable) piece inside out and back to front.  ::)

5against4

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Re: Havergal Brian.
« Reply #1518 on: July 18, 2011, 11:53:31 AM »
Just downloaded, put it on and ascertained the truth. Thanks!

Most welcome. i must say i was tempted to edit out Tom Service's asinine remarks, but wanted to preserve the totality of the evening! That boy will never learn...

Offline Luke

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Re: Havergal Brian.
« Reply #1519 on: July 18, 2011, 12:06:09 PM »
Visually, the evening was treat, I have to say. I tried to describe it a little last night, but I don't think I did well. That dim mountain of singers behind the orchestra all through the first part, and then, just at the end of the third movement (about the time that someone in the arena drops something with a crash!) there is a unisonflickering of pages - little flashes of white against the black. Something is about to happen...the four soloists walk on as the orchestra plays the final bars. The lights come up on the choirs. Heavenyl voices flood the hall. Splendid!

The spatial element of the whole stunned me, too. At last those mammoth choruses were heard as they should be - and Brian was proved right. Nothing clogged here, just hypnotic swathes of imitative sound from all sides. Even small things - the small voices in the orchestra - the solo violin in the first movement, the oboe -amore in the last - because they were now associated with a location as well as a timbre, now became even more imbued with formal weight. Things I knew became things I felt - how the music returned in both cases to its source in place as well as tone. I realise this seems a small thing, but it felt magnificent to hear the work in this way. In a similar way - such a small obvious thing - but to see the movement from tenor solo (beginning on VI) to bass solo (near ned of VI), paralleled by a shift from predominantly left-hand orchestral sounds (it seemed) to predominantly right-hand ones was thirlling. As if the music had stepped into a deeper, denser world. As Johan remarked afterwards - could Brian really have envisaged these effecs (he was thinking more of the big theatrical effects of the choruses, their standing and sitting in such huge swathes...)? I doubt it, really. But it works amazingly well.

Two players caught my eye, for much lighter reasons. The eager, muscles-tensed timpanist of brass band 3. A dead ringer foro Rob Bryden (actor/comedian). And, in the cellos (maybe in other parts of the orchestra too, I coulnd't see) Brabbins' keen ear had asked for a couple of players only at some points in Part II. What precise balancing! At first I could only see one of them, sitting there stock still, eyes closed, as if asleep, looking, I thought for a moment, like some kind of weird art installation!! I even nudged poor Brian to point him out, he looked so odd dozing there! But then I saw his desk partner, also not playing, and realised what was happening. Must have been so odd to sit there through all the cataclysmic noise and not play. Not fun for the playerat all.

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Amazon US
Amazon Canada
Amazon UK