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The Music Room => Composer Discussion => Topic started by: Harry on June 09, 2007, 03:36:53 AM

Title: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Harry on June 09, 2007, 03:36:53 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.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: lukeottevanger on June 09, 2007, 04:16:31 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! :)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: springrite on June 09, 2007, 04:19:09 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!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Harry on June 09, 2007, 04:41:02 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! :)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Harry on June 09, 2007, 04:42:09 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
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on June 09, 2007, 05:27:27 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
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on June 09, 2007, 05:31:31 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?
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Harry on June 09, 2007, 05:32:26 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.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Larry Rinkel on June 09, 2007, 08:02:59 AM
BE GONE, UNBELIEVER!!!

Sarge

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

Maybe it moved him to exit the room . . . .
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Bonehelm on June 09, 2007, 09:32:13 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...
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: lukeottevanger on June 09, 2007, 09:41:07 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
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Bonehelm on June 09, 2007, 10:46:27 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.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: springrite on June 09, 2007, 04:41:49 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!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: johnQpublic on June 09, 2007, 06:57:40 PM
Brian sucks.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Bonehelm on June 09, 2007, 07:25:55 PM
Brian sucks.

Didn't need you to make him worse.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Christo on June 09, 2007, 09:19:35 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. 
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Harry on June 09, 2007, 10:23:54 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
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: lukeottevanger on June 10, 2007, 12:23:13 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.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Guido on June 10, 2007, 01:24:59 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.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: BachQ on June 10, 2007, 02:36:07 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.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on June 10, 2007, 02:39:24 AM
Maybe it moved him to exit the room . . . .

Yes, apparently  ;D

Sarge
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on June 10, 2007, 02:46:02 AM
Here's a site with information and many links to further articles about the Gothic.
 Includes the timings of various performances.

http://www.musicweb-international.com/brian/sym1.htm

Sarge
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on June 10, 2007, 02:51:36 AM
So which recording Gothic to we recommend? If there is more than one recording?

Besides Lenard's on Marco Polo or Naxos, I've heard rumours that there are boots of Boult's 1966 performance. I've never been able to get my hands on one though. For all practical purposes then, Lenard is it. Not to worry: it's a very good performance, and of course, inexpensive now.

Sarge
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: BachQ on June 10, 2007, 02:58:17 AM
Here's a site with information and many links to further articles about the Gothic.
 Includes the timings of various performances.

http://www.musicweb-international.com/brian/sym1.htm

Sarge

Why is this called a symphony, when it's really like a sinfonietta?

Part one:

2 piccolos (1 also flute), 3 flutes (1 also alto flute), 2 oboes,  oboe d’amore, cor anglais,  bass oboe, Eb clarinet, 2  Bb clarinets, basset horn, bass clarinet, 3 bassoons, contrabassoon, 6 horns, Eb cornet, 4 trumpets in F, bass trumpet, 3 tenor trombones, 2 tubas, 2 sets (min 3 drums) timpani, 2 harps, organ, celesta, min 8 percussion:  glockenspiel, xylophone, 2 bass drums, 3 side drums, tambourine, pair cymbals, gong, triangle;  strings [say 16.16.12.10.8]

Part two:

Soprano, alto, tenor, bass soloists, large children’s choir, 2 large mixed double choruses [in practice 4 large SATB choirs]
orchestra: 2 piccolos (1 also flute), 6 flutes (1 also alto flute), 6 oboes (1 also oboe d’amore, 1 also bass oboe), 2 cors anglais, 2 Eb clarinets (1 also Bb clarinet), 4  Bb clarinets, 2 basset horns, 2 bass clarinets, contrabass clarinet, 3 bassoons, 2 contrabassoons, 8 horns, 2 Eb cornets, 4 trumpets in F, bass trumpet, 3 tenor trombones, bass trombone, contrabass trombone, 2 euphoniums, 2 tubas, 2 sets (min 3 [in practice 4] drums) timpani, 2 harps, organ, celesta, min 18 percussion:  glockenspiel, xylophone, 2 bass drums, 3 side drums, long drum, 2 tambourines, 6 pairs cymbals, gong, thunder machine [not thunder sheet], tubular bells, chimes, chains, 2 triangles, birdscare;   strings (20.20.16.14.12)
4 off stage groups: each containing 2 horns, 2 trumpets, 2 tenor trombones, set (min 3 drums) of timpani
(in summary: 32 wind, 24 on stage brass, 24 off stage brass, 6 timpanists, 18 percussion, 4 keyboards and harps, 82 strings - total orchestra c190 players, plus adult choir of min 500 [assumes largely professionals], children’s choir of 100, 4 soloists = c800)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on June 10, 2007, 03:28:33 AM
Why is this called a symphony, when it's really like a sinfonietta?

 ;D :D ;D


18 percussion:  glockenspiel, xylophone, 2 bass drums, 3 side drums, long drum, 2 tambourines, 6 pairs cymbals, gong, thunder machine [not thunder sheet], tubular bells, chimes, chains, 2 triangles, birdscare...

Ah, to be a virtuoso birdscare player! That would be the life.

Sarge
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Christo on June 10, 2007, 03:54:39 AM
There's quite a collection of Brian fans here - in fact, a motley crew of ex-HB Society members ...
;) :D 8) >:D 0:) ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: lukeottevanger on June 10, 2007, 03:59:59 AM
Ah, to be a virtuoso birdscare player! That would be the life.

The bird-scare, long drum and thunder sheet are marked in the instrumentarium, but don't appear in the score; it's conjectured that they are to be played in the final climax[es] of the piece.

A relatively common instrument like the celesta, believe it or not, only has a very brief appearance in the score, too.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: lukeottevanger on June 10, 2007, 04:01:52 AM
;) :D 8) >:D 0:) ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;)

That is indeed an exact likeness of the front row of seats which I remember seeing at the HBS-organised premiere of The Cenci a few years ago. ;D
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Christo on June 10, 2007, 04:03:46 AM
That is indeed an exact likeness of the front row of seats which I remember seeing at the HBS-organised premiere of The Cenci a few years ago. ;D

Well, I only attended a HBS London concert with the Violin Concerto and the orchestral music from The Tigers, 12 years ago (1995) - and then the front row still had their teeth.  :-X :-X :-X :-X :-X :-X
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on June 10, 2007, 01:12:19 PM
The bird-scare, long drum and thunder sheet are marked in the instrumentarium, but don't appear in the score...

Unemployed already, even before I'd had a chance to master the instrument. Damn...

Sarge
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: lukeottevanger on June 10, 2007, 01:22:19 PM
Consider it a lucky escape - it's a real bugger to tune.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on June 10, 2007, 10:58:57 PM
As one of the motley former members of the HBS I recommend the following:

Symphony 8 (a masterpiece)

Symphony 10 (a masterpiece) (briefly on Unicorn, we really need a modern CD version)

Symphony 9

Symphony 7

Symphony 3

Sinfonia Brevis (not on CD)

Gothic Symphony (wonderful orchestral movements, choral sections very impressive but go on too long IMHO)

In Memoriam (great work)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Harry on June 10, 2007, 11:03:13 PM
As one of the motley former members of the HBS I recommend the following:

Symphony 8 (a masterpiece)

Symphony 10 (a masterpiece) (briefly on Unicorn, we really need a modern CD version)

Symphony 9

Symphony 7

Symphony 3

Sinfonia Brevis (not on CD)

Gothic Symphony (wonderful orchestral movements, choral sections very impressive but go on too long IMHO)

In Memoriam (great work)

Fine list my friend, matching recordings? ;D
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: lukeottevanger on June 11, 2007, 12:11:46 AM
There is only one of each (except the Sinfonia Brevis). 7, 8 and 9 are on the EMi disc I recommend above all; 3 you have ordered; 10 was on Unicorn (the pioneering orchestra is my old youth orchestra, the LSSO!); the Gothic is on Marco Polo or Naxos (same recording, different incarnations); In Memoriam is on one of the Marco Polo Brian series.

For my money any of the first 12 or so Brian Symphonies, in particular, offer the easiest way into his music - 12 very different masterpieces each with its own tone. The larger scale earlier symphonies (1-4 are all huge, with 4 nearly as big as the Gothic in some respects) give way to slightly more modest-sized pieces (though 7 is a very large one too). The later symphonies are the models of concision, and very possibly even finer works, , but Brian's undiluted style probably needs assimilating through the earlier works first.

One word of advice - in Brian's music it is important to listen to the bass as a melodic line more than in any other comparable composer. No one else makes their trombones, euphoniums, tubas, bassoons and double basses work quite as hard as he does!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Harry on June 11, 2007, 12:26:22 AM
Thanks for the info, I will act on this and other advise given in this thread.
I look forward to the recordings I can lay my hands on.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Hector on June 11, 2007, 03:35:30 AM
Besides Lenard's on Marco Polo or Naxos, I've heard rumours that there are boots of Boult's 1966 performance. I've never been able to get my hands on one though. For all practical purposes then, Lenard is it. Not to worry: it's a very good performance, and of course, inexpensive now.

Sarge

There is a bootleg of Boult's 60's performance I think somebody on this board may have heard it.

Surely, the Beeb has tapes of either/or the Boult and the Schmidt, or knows somebody who has?

Certainly, there are plenty of conductors, orchestras and record companies around able to process a Brian cycle.

In fact, wasn't Marco Polo/Naxos doing this with the likes of Leaper and Friend?

Lloyd-Jones springs to mind.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on June 11, 2007, 03:56:30 AM
Certainly, there are plenty of conductors, orchestras and record companies around able to process a Brian cycle.
In fact, wasn't Marco Polo/Naxos doing this with the likes of Leaper and Friend?

Yes, they were...and then they suddenly stopped circa 1995. That's very unlike this company, one that has a spendid history of providing complete cycles. I've never heard an explanation why they stopped. Maybe there really is only a dozen Brian fanatics on this planet...not enough to sustain the cycle  ;D


In Memoriam is on one of the Marco Polo Brian series.

On this one, a very important recording as it allows us to hear Brian's final symphony:

(http://photos.imageevent.com/sgtrock/berlin/Brian32.jpg)


Sarge
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Hector on June 11, 2007, 04:53:16 AM
Yes, they were...and then they suddenly stopped circa 1995. That's very unlike this company, one that has a spendid history of providing complete cycles. I've never heard an explanation why they stopped. Maybe there really is only a dozen Brian fanatics on this planet...not enough to sustain the cycle  ;D


On this one, a very important recording as it allows us to hear Brian's final symphony:

(http://photos.imageevent.com/sgtrock/berlin/Brian32.jpg)


Sarge

On the ball, as usual.

Perhaps we should write to Heyman and ask why the cycle ceased.

Leaper would be more than capable.

Considering some of the obscure composers hardly worthy of such attention (Hans Huber) that get on disc it is surprising that Brian has not, so far, received his recorded due!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: karlhenning on June 11, 2007, 05:00:18 AM
I think the idea is they're waiting until the Dittersdwarf cycle is complete  >:D
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on June 11, 2007, 05:18:49 AM
I think the idea is they're waiting until the Dittersdwarf cycle is complete  >:D

dB will be very pleased to hear that.

Sarge
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on June 11, 2007, 05:19:37 AM
On the ball, as usual.

Perhaps we should write to Heyman and ask why the cycle ceased.

Good idea, Hector. I'll do that.

Sarge
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: PerfectWagnerite on June 11, 2007, 05:20:21 AM
I've listened to 1, 4, 12, 8, and 9 and they are all horrible music. Densely scored, unmemorable tunes (there is a nice folksy little violin solo in the beginning of the 1st - I say beginning since I can't get through the whole thing no matter how hard I try). The rest is a mixture of salon music, noise, and bits and pieces of Holst and Shostakovich but showing nowhere near the maturity or skill of either one.

I am sorry, I think Maro Polo sense a loser coming (the sound sucked too in all those recordings) so they cut the cycle before losing too much $$$.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on June 11, 2007, 05:23:39 AM
I've listened to 1, 4, 12, 8, and 9 and they are all horrible music. Densely scored, unmemorable tunes (there is a nice folksy little violin solo in the beginning of the 1st - I say beginning since I can't get through the whole thing no matter how hard I try). The rest is a mixture of salon music, noise, and bits and pieces of Holst and Shostakovich but showing nowhere near the maturity or skill of either one.

I am sorry, I think Maro Polo sense a loser coming (the sound sucked too in all those recordings) so they cut the cycle before losing too much $$$.

Then you'll be pleased about the Dittersdorf cycle.

Sarge
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: karlhenning on June 11, 2007, 05:24:51 AM
Well, he deserves a little happiness, too.

Personally, I'm more curious about this thread's namesake.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: PerfectWagnerite on June 11, 2007, 05:44:52 AM
Well, he deserves a little happiness, too.

Personally, I'm more curious about this thread's namesake.

What namesake?
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: pjme on June 11, 2007, 08:16:29 AM
But there is definitely some very beautiful music by Brian.

As so often : an uneven composer IMO,( cfr. Langgaard, Milhaud, Petterson,Bax etc). Still he has -like the other composers mentioned- this unique voice ,or handwriting - character. Even if one doesn't like the music, it can be recognised immediately.

Wait till next year, when Lyrita will re-issue symphonies 6 (Tragica) and 16. Very good performances of accessible works (LPO /Myer Fredman). Neither overlong, nor frustratingly short.
Beautiful melodies, a sense of drama & vision.

I haven't heard all his works ,of course, but it can be very tough, weird - rambling.

I have fond memories of symphony nr 5 "Wine of summer" for baritone & orch. ( alas only on tape) - more overtly "emotional" than the more abstract, late symphonies.

Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on June 11, 2007, 08:30:14 AM
But there is definitely some very beautiful music by Brian...Wait till next year, when Lyrita will re-issue symphonies 6 (Tragica) and 16. Very good performances of accessible works (LPO /Myer Fredman). Neither overlong, nor frustratingly short. Beautiful melodies, a sense of drama & vision.

Definitely. Couldn't agree more. Along with the Gothic, the 16th is my favorite of the 21 I've heard so far. Still cherish my old LP.

I haven't heard all his works, of course, but it can be very tough, weird - rambling.

Which is why we love him so much  ;D  But, seriously, his music can be difficult to penetrate. I don't fault those who give up early on Brian.

Sarge
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: karlhenning on June 11, 2007, 08:32:08 AM
The upside must be: tough, weird rambling is corn to a Mahler-lover's sickle  ;D

Don't lose hope, Sarge!  :)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: karlhenning on June 11, 2007, 08:40:38 AM
PS/ Sarge, I tried to PM, but I'm told your inbox is full . . . .
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on June 11, 2007, 10:02:56 AM
PS/ Sarge, I tried to PM, but I'm told your inbox is full . . . .

Really? A gold subscriber and my inbox is full? Scandalous. I demand more space!!!  ;D

Sarge
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: karlhenning on June 11, 2007, 10:05:21 AM
Hmm. Sounds like a bug.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on June 11, 2007, 10:07:33 AM
Hmm. Sounds like a bug.

Could be. I had five pages worth of mail. Is that excessive do you think? I think I used to have more than that on the old forum before I became a subscriber. Anyway, I've cleaned the box and if you want, you can try again.

Sarge
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: lukeottevanger on June 11, 2007, 10:19:17 AM
I've listened to 1, 4, 12, 8, and 9 and they are all horrible music. Densely scored, unmemorable tunes


nah....he is more like Mahler in this than you care to imagine; what I mean is that he has got a limited number of tune-types/rhythmic types, and after that they are all only variations thereon - the last three movements of the Gothic, for instance, feature a plethora of tunes which are just variations of an unheard  proto-tune based on the augmented triad. Mahler 8 actually uses a similar technique IMO. Which isn't a limitation in either composer - this constant protean metamorphosis is part of their style, and it is a mark of the deep-rootedness and genuineness of both composers that their music always sounds like them and no one else.

In any case, I would have no problem singing to you all the melodic material of the Brian symphonies I am familiar with. It's at its strongest, IMO in Symphonies 1, 3, 7 and 8, all of which are packed with wonderful things. The scherzo of no 3, in particular, proves that Brian could compose 'like every one else' when he wanted to.

Densely scored? Certainly, he has a distinctive juggernaut sound, those lurching marches, thudding chords and bass-directed textures; there is a deliberate brutal clumsiness built in - a typical Brian texture is a lumbering march destroying all in its path, and that no doubt reflects a deep and constant concern of his; there is little point in criticising its musical realisation, I think for it does the job it is designed for perfectly.
In any case, the scoring - study it - is an absolute model of its type. And when he wants to be delicate he can do it like no-one else. There are wraith-like passages in my favourite 8th Symphony as weird and delicate as anything in Berlioz.

(there is a nice folksy little violin solo in the beginning of the 1st - I say beginning since I can't get through the whole thing no matter how hard I try). The rest is a mixture of salon music, noise, and bits and pieces of Holst and Shostakovich but showing nowhere near the maturity or skill of either one.

The 'nice folksy violin solo' is a marvel indeed, but seen by some as a big formal misjudgement - it stops the momentum of this huge symphony before it has really got started. Personally I think it is perfect in its place, showing us, before we expected it, the still flip-side of the intense, turbulent music already heard. This is a principle in operation throughout the symphony, possibly best seen in the Vivace third movement. It is also an early example of the juddering juxtaposition of extremes for which Brian is famous, and which in the 8th symphony audibly becomes the formal basis of the whole piece - militaristic music v. lyricism, both driven to ever wilder and more ecstatic extremes in briefer and briefer cross cuts. Wild stuff. But I digress.

It is a mistake, btw, to see Brian as relating to Holst and especially Shostakovich, his junior by 30 years. He is a very different figure to both. Mahler is actually a good comparison in many ways, but few other composers are.

I am sorry, I think Maro Polo sense a loser coming (the sound sucked too in all those recordings) so they cut the cycle before losing too much $$$.

The sound wasn't great. But as far as I recall, that wasn't the whole story.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: karlhenning on June 11, 2007, 10:24:31 AM
Anyway, I've cleaned the box and if you want, you can try again.

Success!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: PerfectWagnerite on June 11, 2007, 10:43:54 AM


Densely scored? Certainly, he has a distinctive juggernaut sound, those lurching marches, thudding chords and bass-directed textures; there is a deliberate brutal clumsiness built in - a typical Brian texture is a lumbering march destroying all in its path, and that no doubt reflects a deep and constant concern of his; there is little point in criticising its musical realisation, I think for it does the job it is designed for perfectly.
In any case, the scoring - study it - is an absolute model of its type. And when he wants to be delicate he can do it like no-one else. There are wraith-like passages in my favourite 8th Symphony as weird and delicate as anything in Berlioz.


I just have a problem hearing which ever way Brian is going. Mahler's scoring is very clear, you more or less hear what each instrument (or group of instruments) is going. With Brian it seems like they are each going off in different directions and not really related to each other in a meaningful way. But I admit I have not dedicated a vast amount of time listening to him.

The piece that I have the most problem with is the 4th symphony which is an interminable 60 minutes long. Maybe it is the performance also but everything just seems it is repeated over and over for the whole hour.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: lukeottevanger on June 11, 2007, 10:59:00 AM
I just have a problem hearing which ever way Brian is going. Mahler's scoring is very clear, you more or less hear what each instrument (or group of instruments) is going. With Brian it seems like they are each going off in different directions and not really related to each other in a meaningful way. But I admit I have not dedicated a vast amount of time listening to him.

Well, I think you've correctly diagnosed one of the main Brian symptom! But then again, though I think Mahler is a good point of comparison, they are very different composers, and though I'd never suggest that Brian has Mahler's quality, he does share his strength of character and individuality. The reason I say this is that I think it is misleading to listen to Brian with expectations based on Mahler (or any other contemporary of his, for that matter). The hardest thing about Brian, then, is that these are obviously late Romantic symphonies, but they make little sense if one listens to them in that way. Brian is unique, for instance, in basing his melodic focus around the bass as much as he does; it takes a readjustment to get used to that. Then again, the 'going off in different directions' that you hear is not a misjudgement by a composer attempting the clarity of a Mahler and found wanting - it is a fundamental part of his style. Like all great Romantic composers, Brian's style is a deeply personal thing, formed from his profoundest experiences, and so, though it's hard to get into, it is worth putting one's trust in until one 'gets' it. Something about the clumsy-sounding nature of some of Brian's music, though this is as deliberate a part of his sound as Mahler's weltschmerz, unfortunately leads many listeners not to want to invest this trust in him. I think that is the root of his problem.

The piece that I have the most problem with is the 4th symphony which is an interminable 60 minutes long. Maybe it is the performance also but everything just seems it is repeated over and over for the whole hour.

Well, I will say that the 4th is really intense piece, Brian's most brutal and maliciously ironic work, perhaps, with all his typical shuddering juxtapositions and fragmentations present as much or more than in any other work of his. The sense of everything being repeated is not entirely wrong - but then, as I suggested before, it would be possible to say the same of Mahler too (Mahler 8 in particular, again); it's just that Gustav's language is more mellifluous and less potentially infuriating! As I implied above, it invites our trust more easily.

But if you want to give Brian a fair chance, I can only reiterate - try the EMI disc of 7, 8 and 9. If these three, and 8 particularly  - Brian at his very best, without a weak bar - don't convert you, then I will give up happily  :)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: PerfectWagnerite on June 11, 2007, 11:05:15 AM
Something about the clumsy-sounding nature of some of Brian's music, though this is as deliberate a part of his sound as Mahler's weltschmerz, unfortunately leads many listeners not to want to invest this trust in him. I think that is the root of his problem.

But if you want to give Brian a fair chance, I can only reiterate - try the EMI disc of 7, 8 and 9. If these three, and 8 particularly  - Brian at his very best, without a weak bar - don't convert you, then I will give up happily  :)

Of course I know it is unfair to compare Brian with Mahler but I am going to anyway. With Mahler even things that are meant to sound clumsy are done with such panache and flair. Take for example the second movement of the 9th symphony which Mahler wants to sound a little clumsy and like a country dance. But it is extremely deftly scored, light, and colorful. What comes across is anything but coarse.

I have the EMI disc of 8th and 9th (I have an earlier release so 7 is not included). I will give it another spin tonight.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: lukeottevanger on June 11, 2007, 12:06:34 PM
Of course I know it is unfair to compare Brian with Mahler but I am going to anyway. With Mahler even things that are meant to sound clumsy are done with such panache and flair. Take for example the second movement of the 9th symphony which Mahler wants to sound a little clumsy and like a country dance. But it is extremely deftly scored, light, and colorful. What comes across is anything but coarse.

Absolutely; I just think that Brian often intends the coarseness. Underlying a lot of Brian is this lumbering militarism - the horrors of WWI haunt his music in this way - which is not something that Mahler attempts anywhere as far as I remember
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on June 11, 2007, 10:34:23 PM
I am also really looking forward to the reappearance of symphonies 6 and 16 on Lyrita (they are having trouble finding an appropriate coupling from their catalogue; I suggested Bantock's Overture to a Greek Tragedy but that has just been issued with works by Holbrooke and Rootham's great Symphony (would appeal to fans of Moeran I think)

Like Langgaard, Brian is a very uneven composer and some of those late symphonies are very dense (although not No 22) but I stand by what I said about 8 and 10 being masterpieces; they possess a great  slumbering power and a kind of craggy poetry which I find both moving and memorable. I recall that a critic wrote that No 10 ends with a sense of hard-won but enduring victory and I agree.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: lukeottevanger on June 11, 2007, 11:23:30 PM
...I recall that a critic wrote that No 10 ends with a sense of hard-won but enduring victory and I agree.

In passing - Brian's music is the sort that inspires memorable phrases of this sort. Malcolm MacDonald, who was possibly responsible for the line you quote, also has a memorable line about the way a pp brass chord near the end of the 10th

Quote from: Malcolm MacDonald
stares at us, sphinx-like and inscrutable...it hangs there, athwart the music, utterly static and mysterious. So might some gigantic supernova shine out of the depths of space, a cold, far-off, incomprehensible radiance, yet signifying the deaths of stars and worlds...

after that, as he describes it, the solo violin offers

Quote from: Malcolm MacDonald
a last poignant assertion of human integrity, but it also implies reconciliation: the universe is vast and mysterious; peace of mind lies only in a stoic unafraid acceptance of the fact that there will be no answers....'Well, 'tis very well'. The final two quiet bars...have all the deep majesty of the distant night sky, and the calm of the stars in their courses

Hyperbolic stuff, some might think, but this is music of the sort of scale and reach that calls for such writing, much as Mahler and Wagner's music has been garlanded in similar ways - and no one can doubt that MacDonald has hit upon some appropriate imagery for the end of this last symphony of a triptych of 'brothers'. Not only that, but also - at the time of writing that, Brian's music was even less known than it is now, and was still at the stage where it needed cool passionless analysis less than it needed simply to be described in print.

As in his Brahms and Schoenberg books, MacDonald proves himself one of the most persuasive, passionate and understanding of music writer in his books on the Brian symphonies  - they are chock-full of such apt metaphors and perfect, pertinent similes (dozens leap to mind as I write this) and it seems to me that they may help people struggling with Brian to grasp the essence of his music verbally, giving them an idea of the direction from which to approach him.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Christo on June 12, 2007, 03:28:32 AM
Ah, yess, Malcolm MacDonald! I recall him sitting in our much-commented front-row ( ;D >:D :-X :o 8) ;D 0:) :-[ :P) back in 1995 - scores on his knees. But he didn't need them, he was nodding and humming all through the 50 minutes or so of the orchestral parts of The Tigers - knowing all of it by head, no doubt.

(Btw, I also recall Bisengaliev playing the whole develishly difficult Violin Concerto by head - and even better than in the recorded version).
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on June 12, 2007, 04:00:31 AM
I think that it was Harold Truscott (also the composer of a fine symphony) who wrote about the sense of hard-won victory at the end of Brian's 10th.  Robert Simpson also wrote eloquently about Brian.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on June 12, 2007, 04:37:31 AM
As in his Brahms and Schoenberg books, MacDonald proves himself one of the most persuasive, passionate and understanding of music writer in his books on the Brian symphonies  - they are chock-full of such apt metaphors and perfect, pertinent similes...

Here's my favorite quote from MacDonald's magnificent three-volume The Symphonies of Havergal Brian. It describes the most intense ending of a piece of music I've ever heard: the conclusion of the third movement (Vivace) and Part I of the Gothic:

"The music heaves like a plain on which great armies are embattled. Side-drum and upper woodwind beat out a manic pounding rhythm against which strings play a tough ostinato. Bassoons and tubas make a bass of the "saurian" theme in altered rhythm, while the rest of the brass have the lions's share of glory in a vast series of canonic entries. Trumpets and cornets ring out proudly above the storm, with a note of victory, a sense of triumph and exultation (which must have been Brian's own as he came to the end of this superb movement). The music soars in boundless confidence; harps, xylophone and organ enter with more ostinati; and suddenly it is the climax of the Part I. Brian flings the music back into the home key of D minor with a cadence of astonishing boldness:

(http://photos.imageevent.com/sgtrock/gmgpictures/Brian.jpg)

From C major to D minor by way of F sharp, all in three triads: it is the sensational juxtaposition of C and F sharp that is so exhilarating [and shocking, terrifying--Sarge]. Brian has discovered his full powers. He can stride from one end of the tonal universe to the other in a split second: he can make a single cadence bear the dramatic weight of an entire movement. This is the victory of imagination over form.

Back in D minor the music rises to a pinnacle of grandeur before all the instruments hammer home the chord of D, fortissimo, only to be shut out with heart-stopping suddeness. There is a pause, then quietness--a high tremolo in the violins, a soft meditative glow from the bassoons, barely audible timpani to assure us the world is still spinning. Part I of the Gothic ends in a serenely spaced D major triad, adorned with harp arpeggios."

There are three books I've considered absolutely essential in my developing appreciation and understanding of classical music: Charles Rosen's The Classical Style; Robert Simpson's The Essence of Bruckner; and MacDonald's.

Sarge
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: karlhenning on June 12, 2007, 04:42:06 AM
Quote from: MacDonald
. . . This is the victory of imagination over form.

Any first-year theory student who gets his wrist slapped for following one chord in root position, with another root-position chord a tritone away, just needs to cite Brian as a precedent.

Sweet!  8)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: lukeottevanger on June 12, 2007, 04:47:27 AM
Absolutely! MacDonald brings it alive. Prompted by this thread, actually, I reread the first chapters of the book this morning, and was bowled over again by the prose. It's simply exciting reading. I was very close to quoting exactly the passage you just did, and also the couple of paragraphs before it - it's one of those sections that is a joy just to read.

In MacDonald's writing, unsurprisingly, similar metaphors return - the score as a battleground, scene of catastrophe and tragedy, and also the celestial mechanics theme - that passage describing the central point of the Gothic's Vivace, for instance, where he talks about the veil being lifted and the engine within being revealed. He gets it spot on. The introduction, too, I was reminding, is sterling stuff, making all the right points succinctly. 
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on June 12, 2007, 04:50:37 AM
Any first-year theory student who gets his wrist slapped for following one chord in root position, with another root-position chord a tritone away, just needs to cite Brian as a precedent.

Sweet!  8)

Students aren't allowed to break the rules. The genius-composer knows he must break the rules. ;D

Sarge
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: PerfectWagnerite on June 12, 2007, 04:53:26 AM
Students aren't allowed to break the rules. The genius-composer knows he must break the rules. ;D

Sarge

Uhhh, I was taught that until you can master the rules you are not allowed to break them.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on June 12, 2007, 04:59:37 AM
Uhhh, I was taught that until you can master the rules you are not allowed to break them.

Again, we'll have to disagree, PW. I'll just say Brian was well-thought of by his contemporaries. The man knew how to compose great music...not to your taste, I understand.

Sarge
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Hector on June 12, 2007, 05:11:43 AM
I'm British and I just like the noise he makes.

Then, suddenly, will come a lyrical passage so beguiling...and short!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Lethevich on June 12, 2007, 05:35:26 AM
I'm British and I just like the noise he makes.

Then, suddenly, will come a lyrical passage so beguiling...and short!

Hehehehe... I felt the same when I heard the 27th symphony. The entire first movement seemed dense and restless to me, then about 4 minutes in (from my very inaccurate memory) a trumpet fanfare burst in, acting like a refreshing tonic, only for the turmoil to continue 3 seconds later. Once the movement was over all I could think was "that entire movement had 3 seconds of melodic material in total, WTF?". Then I thought about it some more and it seemed to "click", he obviously wasn't intending for it to be catchy, so I focused more on the "difficult" bits I that I was initially expecting to dissipate in place of some oldschool Memorable Romantic Themes, but were actually what the symphony turned out to be entirely comprised of...

(Brian is difficult for me to write about, that reads like nonsense)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: lukeottevanger on June 12, 2007, 05:45:08 AM
Uhhh, I was taught that until you can master the rules you are not allowed to break them.

And Brian had mastered them. Witness his immense and complex Double Fugue for piano -itself, though, just a practise-piece for the Gothic - or, indeed, the amazing counterpoint of the Gothic's choral pages (such as the In te Domine speravi chorus - wow!). That blinding chord sequence is thoroughly justified - as MacDonald says, on tonal and also a kind of serial basis - in what comes before. The tonal trajectory of whole piece is masterfully planned down to the smallest details.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on June 12, 2007, 10:37:06 PM
Brian's Symphony 6 and 16 will be coupled with Arnold Cooke's Symphony 3 on Lyrita.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Hector on June 13, 2007, 01:15:07 AM
Hehehehe... I felt the same when I heard the 27th symphony. The entire first movement seemed dense and restless to me, then about 4 minutes in (from my very inaccurate memory) a trumpet fanfare burst in, acting like a refreshing tonic, only for the turmoil to continue 3 seconds later. Once the movement was over all I could think was "that entire movement had 3 seconds of melodic material in total, WTF?". Then I thought about it some more and it seemed to "click", he obviously wasn't intending for it to be catchy, so I focused more on the "difficult" bits I that I was initially expecting to dissipate in place of some oldschool Memorable Romantic Themes, but were actually what the symphony turned out to be entirely comprised of...

(Brian is difficult for me to write about, that reads like nonsense)

No it doesn't. It encapsulates my feelings exactly.

The brief lyrical passages go, almost, unnoticed as one endeavours to catch one's breathe after the brilliantly organised "cacophony."
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on June 13, 2007, 04:19:05 AM
Brian's Symphony 6 and 16 will be coupled with Arnold Cooke's Symphony 3 on Lyrita.

Interesting. I have the LP of the Cooke.

(http://photos.imageevent.com/sgtrock/berlin/Cooke.jpg)


Sarge
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Christo on June 13, 2007, 10:09:14 AM
Brian's Symphony 6 and 16 will be coupled with Arnold Cooke's Symphony 3 on Lyrita.

Great news! I didn't hear any of those three symphonies for 25 years, though I could still whistle the opening and especially the tragic finale of the Sixth from memory. The good news being the coupling: I remember to have had a special liking for Cooke Three, and look forward with anticipation to its release.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Hector on June 14, 2007, 05:23:00 AM
Interesting. I have the LP of the Cooke.

(http://photos.imageevent.com/sgtrock/berlin/Cooke.jpg)


Sarge

Why am I not surprised?

I do, seriously, believe your home is HMV, Oxford Street. ;D
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: sound67 on June 17, 2007, 12:46:03 AM
From the recordings made of them, Brian's works display mostly empty grandiloquence (Gothic and Siegeslied symphonies), or, alternatively, clumsiness in orchestration as well as muddled structures and ideas. Try as I might (and as a lover of 20th century English music I REALLY have tried), I find very little of true distinction here. Brian is overrated.

His most accessible work is certainly the Violin Concerto.

Thomas
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on June 17, 2007, 02:01:05 AM
Brian is overrated.

Since he's not performed in our concert halls, not recorded, not championed by any famous conductor, not discussed in music magazines and has a miniscule fan base, I'm at a loss as to how he could possibly be characterized as overrated. ;D

Sarge
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: johnQpublic on June 17, 2007, 06:00:07 AM
how he could possibly be characterized as overrated.

This thread is trying as hard as it can to rate him high, that's for sure.

Personally, I wish you'd let the hack lanquish among the dregs.  ;D
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: lukeottevanger on June 17, 2007, 06:35:26 AM
From the recordings made of them, Brian's works display mostly empty grandiloquence (Gothic and Siegeslied symphonies), or, alternatively, clumsiness in orchestration as well as muddled structures and ideas. Try as I might (and as a lover of 20th century English music I REALLY have tried), I find very little of true distinction here. Brian is overrated.

His most accessible work is certainly the Violin Concerto.

Thomas

I'm going to continue to rate him highly, whatever JQP thinks  ;D

Honestly, the 'clumsy orchestration' and the 'muddled structures' are apprehensible as such only if one approaches Brian expecting 1) another [English] Romantic/Romantic Symphonist and 2) one who isn't all that good anyway, and probably a bit of a crank. As I wrote earlier in this thread, Brian is most obviously approached in this way, and with a certain dubious lack of either trust or positive expectations. I had my own moments of being unsure, I must admit it, as I got to know some of his symponies. But one has to trust him - one has to trust that a musician who was much respected by his peers - by Strauss, Elgar, Bantock, Henry Wood and so on - and who conductors such as Boult, Mackerras, Charles Groves etc saw fit to conduct must have quite a bit going for him.

But this is appeal to higher authority, and I concede that as an argument it isn't enough. I can only repeat and emphasize what I've have already said - that approaching Brian as a Romantic symphonist won't do. One has to make the leap of faith, to trust that, whether he is seen as a major figure or not, his music is something very different from anything else of the time, and shouldn't be listened to as if in competition with composers who are, in essence, working in totally different directions.

The more I listen to Brian the more convinced I am that he had an astonishing and completely original formal sense - it's just that there's absolutely nothing out of the textbook about it. He thinks things through - feels them, I should say - from first principles: a work like the 8th symphony, which I keep touting, is based around a dialectic as strong as anything in Mahler, but rawer and more extreme. Here the form is a simple one: two types of material, one violent, aggressive, martial, one lyrical, vulnerable, potentially ecstatic, are shoved up against each other, and the work procedes as a series of ever-more-extreme cross-cuts from one to the other. The aggression grows more destructive; the lyricism grows more desperately ecstatic - but the two need each other to work, they seem more dramatic or more vulnerably beautiful only in relation to each other. The music works centrifugally, until it spins off into two passcaglie which are an unexpected yet totally logical release. This is a totally convincing form, a simple one which is instantly sensed, but also an original and new one. Each of Brian's symphonies works in this way - he juxtaposes not just motives but also musical types, and he is extremely sensitive to the implications of what he writes, which is why you won't find one symphony which is structured in a conventional way. When he approaches such forms - as in the 9th symphony, or the 3rd - it is still clear that he is doing so from first principles, not simply filling a template - in this at least, he is closer to Beethoven than to many later Romantics.

The 'clumsy orchestration' is something I've already talked about. In the first place, I don't see that a composer of something as texturally delicate and yet complex as, for instance, the second movement of the 3rd symphony could ever be accused of clumsiness; in the second place, I would just repeat that the 'clumsy' 'lumbering' sound, which is certainly present throughout Brian's music, is absolutely deliberate. One can conjecture about its 'meaning' - my own feeling is that Brian had a horror of brutality, of regimentation and of mass action, perhaps fostered by his WWI experiences, and the militaristic sounds which lurch destructively across his scores, (often triumphantly, but also emptily and ironically as in Das Siegeslied and many, many other pages) are an echo of this - but the texture is too omnipresent for it to be a miscalculation. There is also the registral and timbral fragmentation which is a hallmark of Brian's - we see it emerging in the second movement of the Gothic, and if one traces it from there, where it evidently works but sounds very peculiar, it is clear that it is a fundamental characteristic of Brian's without which his music wouldn't be Brianesque. One may not like it, but that's another matter; in itself it doesn't make him a bad composer.

I see most 'grandiloquence' in Brian as reflective of all these same trends, again. If it isn't clear that the mock-Handelian triumphant opening to #4 - indeed the whole symphony - isn't to be read with bitter irony, as a textural-type with its own complex of associations, quickly undercut and made real by the truly Brianesque violence that follows, then I don't know what is! When it occurs elsewhere - the overwhelming coda of #9, for instance - I can't help but hear it in the same way. But I don't really see grandiloquence being any more of a problem for Brian than it is for Mahler  ;)

Essentially, I feel that understanding Brian is a little like letting one's eyes make the adjustments necessary  to take in a pointilliste or impressionist painting; IOW, to look in a different way, not to work around stylistic assumptions made on the basis of musical period, or country. I'll freely admit that I had to go through this process before I really fell for him - and I'm one of those who didn't struggle upon first contact with Boulez, Xenakis et al. Brian's main problem is that his pieces are symphonies - which leads newcomers to expect things which aren't to be found, though his symphnoies are more symphonic through and through than almost anyone else's. It's clear to me that, once his basic terms and conditions are agreed to - his formal methods accepted, his orchestral sound understood - Brian is revealed as a very powerful figure. In this he is only like Mahler, or Sibelius (he's a lesser figure of course, in the end, though I'm not sure that in many ways he isn't their equal - he's certainly a born, gut-instinct musician like them, not a production-line one). It's just that his traits are at first more obscure and puzzling than theirs - his music draws its energy and onwards power, at every moment, from contrast and juxtaposition, and it makes for hard listening at first.

Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on June 17, 2007, 03:06:49 PM
Great news! I didn't hear any of those three symphonies for 25 years, though I could still whistle the opening and especially the tragic finale of the Sixth from memory. The good news being the coupling: I remember to have had a special liking for Cooke Three, and look forward with anticipation to its release.

Yes, I'm in the same boat. It's fun and also a liitle weird to hear this stuff again after a quarter of a century; a bit like going into a time warp. Like you, I can remember Brian's No 6 and 16 after all this time. I also had the Cooke on LP and the Morgan Violin Concerto and those interesting symphonies by Robert Still (one based on a psychoanalytic case history as I recall). They will all be on CD in 2008.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sean on June 18, 2007, 05:59:02 AM
Hi Luke, I was impressed with your detailed thoughts on Brian, and it’s great to read such advocacy: I know it’s music that has much to offer, though I’m not yet quite so persuaded. It’s certainly interesting though how composers or particular works acquire an aura of presupposition and established critical appraisal around them: sometimes of course it’s all just wide of the mark, yet continues militating against the music’s exposure. These corners of the repertory tend to involve various unusual aesthetics and compositional approaches, and often outside mainstream developments.

Grove 1980 links Brian with his friend Bantock and Strauss (whose later career likewise remains wildly misunderstood) but notes as difficulties in his music the obscure distinction between leading and subsidiary parts, with the melodic interest often in lower or somewhere unexpected and a logic where traditional antithesis and synthesis are hard to observe despite being in a predominantly tonal idiom using traditional material. Heroic themes in the earlier work though give way to motifs apt for more extended development. This is all very interesting and can certainly be felt in the Thirty-first symphony, but I would question the level of sheer intuitive insight that brings to make musical sense of these innovations. Shostakovich for example had the genius for it, but Brian remains enigmatic (rather like Bax admittedly, who I only understood after a lot of patience…)

A heaviness of orchestration is still found in the later symphonies despite their more concise and restrained schemes, and the Penguiners suggest that if he’d been able to hear more of his work in orchestral form then more of the bluntness and questionable if interesting rhythmic syntax would have been addressed. I’ve explored only Symphonies 1, 6, 7 & 31 (and a few short choral pieces- Blow blow thou winter wind; Come away, death & Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day) but see him as somewhere between Elgar’s and VW’s continental structures and Bax’s visionary English waywardness: like Bantock he finds a position between German sweep, dissonance and architecture, and refined English detail- both were arguably also too prolific…

I can’t go along with all your enthusiasm for the First symphony- there’s surely no work written that has so many diverse ideas sequentially offered yet without being developed further: I’d argue it remains a beached whale and is hard to take it all that seriously just because of its lack of unity: Mahler Eight has a similar problem but is better contained within its particular aesthetic.

He’s perhaps unique in having written only five symphonies before he was 72 and his last 27 after then.

I’ll have a closer look at your post next time…
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Christo on June 18, 2007, 09:22:46 AM
I'm going to continue to rate him highly, whatever JQP thinks  ;D

... and many of us are grateful that you do! However high I appreciate Thomas' insights into 20th century British music - and I find his views on Vaughan Williams superior to anyone's, for example - in this respect I wholeheartedly agree with all Luke's arguments, that I read with great admiration.

Urged by this thread, I've been listening afresh to the three 'introductionary' orchestral movements (preceding the huge Te Deum, forming the other three movements) of Brian's Gothic again, after a gap of some years. Especially the third movement, Vivace, is of such tremendous symphonic power, and built up in such a unique, very 'symphonic' fashion, that I cannot really think of anything else in music equalling it. And at least a handful of other symphonies share this uniqueness, this highly personal and deeply moving musical language: e.g. the Sixth (Tragica), Eight and Tenth.

What I really don't understand is: why is Brian considered 'difficult'?? I would argue that his densely scored Violin Concerto poses more difficulties than at least a number of his symphonies. Especially the Gothic should reveal itself on first hearing, I would say. So what is so "difficult" about Brian? Honestly, I really miss that point.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on June 18, 2007, 10:09:53 PM

What I really don't understand is: why is Brian considered 'difficult'?? I would argue that his densely scored Violin Concerto poses more difficulties than at least a number of his symphonies. Especially the Gothic should reveal itself on first hearing, I would say. So what is so "difficult" about Brian? Honestly, I really miss that point.

I agree. The Violin Concerto is, for me, a much more difficult work than, say, symphonies 8,9 and 10
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Harry on June 21, 2007, 04:00:27 AM
Well there was some worry about the continuation of the symphonies with Naxos, here it is.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Christo on June 21, 2007, 01:02:41 PM
Well there was some worry about the continuation of the symphonies with Naxos, here it is.

 8) :P Exactly the one I forgot to buy when released as a Marco Polo CD - and not to be found anywhere for years. Even a former HBS (Havergal Brian Society) member (blush, I am one  0:) is sometimes forced to an embarrassing confession: I never heard Brian's Second!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on June 21, 2007, 01:20:57 PM
Well there was some worry about the continuation of the symphonies with Naxos, here it is.

I have the Marco Polo version and I must say that Naxos have included a much more dramatic cover design than the photo of Brighton Pavillion on the original release! No 2 is not an easy work but very rewarding in its uncompromising way.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Harry on June 21, 2007, 09:54:24 PM
8) :P Exactly the one I forgot to buy when released as a Marco Polo CD - and not to be found anywhere for years. Even a former HBS (Havergal Brian Society) member (blush, I am one  0:) is sometimes forced to an embarrassing confession: I never heard Brian's Second!

Well until recently I did not even know this composer, so feel relaxed about you not having heard the second symphony! ;D
All is well.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on July 09, 2007, 12:07:28 PM
I joined only today. But as a confirmed Brian lover (Dutch) and member of the HBS (since 1984) I must simply say that it's good to see some Brianites here. Some of them (Christo, lukeottevanger) I must have seen in the flesh, because I was in London in 1995 for the Violin Concerto and the Turandot suites, and in 1997 for the premiere of The Cenci.

I hope to give my 'take' on Brian later. But I'm glad there are some who'll fight for him. There is so much power, beauty, tenderness and imagination in his music (I know most of what has been recorded or broadcast). And we musn't forget - don't judge a composer too harshly when there is no performance tradition to speak of. The best performances of Brian give you a sense of the utter rightness of his ear. And another thing - Brian has to be experienced live. My wife was with me in 1995, and she was bowled over by the music.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Christo on July 09, 2007, 09:46:47 PM
Dear JH! Great to see you here - and to read your correct infor on the 1995 HBS concerts. Yes, we met there, even the three of us, and yes, I was wrong in referring to The Tigers: it was the Turandot music that was being performed, then, with the Violin Concerto and one of the lighter Overtures, If I'm not mistaken again.

I still own you your EMI CD with nos 8 + 9 - so, let's meet again. bw, christo
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on July 09, 2007, 10:35:29 PM
Dear JH! Great to see you here - and to read your correct infor on the 1995 HBS concerts. Yes, we met there, even the three of us, and yes, I was wrong in referring to The Tigers: it was the Turandot music that was being performed, then, with the Violin Concerto and one of the lighter Overtures, If I'm not mistaken again.

I still own you your EMI CD with nos 8 + 9 - so, let's meet again. bw, christo

Ah, JS! Do you know, I was wondering whether I recognised something familar... Still in love with RVW, I see! I saw some of your contributions on the Gramophone forum when I became enamoured of the music of Albéric Magnard (his Third and Fourth are magnificent) and tried to find out as much as I could about him. Good to see you! Yes, by all means, let's meet again.

Another correction: it was not one of the lighter overtures that was performed, but Pantalon and Columbine, consisting of 'Valse' and 'Under the Beech Tree', two works that were later incorporated into the First English Suite.

[Sorry, girls and boys, for this semi-private conversation...]

Jez
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Christo on July 11, 2007, 11:38:42 PM
It might interest some of us to see the 1972 Havergal Brian documentary on YouTube, with some shootage of Brian himself, Robert Simpson and many others.
And also a film of the 1972 recording sessions of the Tenth by the [among HBS members] rather famous LSSO (Leicester Schools Symphony Orchestra) under James Loughran.

See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RsHbjY8HbcE&mode=related&search=

Were are you to be seen, dear Luke?

Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on July 12, 2007, 12:23:36 AM
This interests me a lot, Christo!! Long live YouTube! Btw - are there any Brianites interested in the Boult Gothic? I have a lossless rip (flac) of the famous pirated recording. I would gladly upload it...

Jez

P.S. Now seen the documentary. I found it very moving, having lived so long with this man's music.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: lukeottevanger on July 12, 2007, 12:21:38 PM
It might interest some of us to see the 1972 Havergal Brian documentary on YouTube, with some shootage of Brian himself, Robert Simpson and many others.
And also a film of the 1972 recording sessions of the Tenth by the [among HBS members] rather famous LSSO (Leicester Schools Symphony Orchestra) under James Loughran.

See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RsHbjY8HbcE&mode=related&search=

Were are you to be seen, dear Luke?



LOL - I was actually watching that documentary yesterday too, what a coincidence! I feel a special bond with that particular CD, of course, but I must admit I wasn't in the LSSO then, in fact I wasn't even born! I didn't join them until about 1992 and they were still an very special group even then (entrusted with premieres of Kancheli and Woolrich in my time there, for instance). But the LSSO of the 70s was quite something else, thanks to Pinkett and Tippett etc. - and yes, even having been a member, it was still astonishing to see the age of some of the members in the Brian doc.

The British music education system for once had things so right with their county orchestras and the Saturday morning pyramid system, of which the LSSO was probably the pioneering and best group, on this and other evidence. It was still going strong in Leicestershire just a decade ago, but elsewhere was already beginning a downward slide. What on earth possessed the-powers-that-be to let this happen? >:( :'(

Even years after the event there were still traces of the LSSO recording to be found in Leicester. When I first discovered Brian I found the scores to Symphonies 10 and 21 in the city's Goldsmith Music Library (which has also suffered over the years since, I think); I would hazard the guess that these were something to do with the LSSO recording, except that the library also had a score of number 8 for some reason. What other public library has such relative riches, I wonder.  ???
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Dundonnell on August 01, 2007, 03:33:48 PM
Absolutely! MacDonald brings it alive. Prompted by this thread, actually, I reread the first chapters of the book this morning, and was bowled over again by the prose. It's simply exciting reading. I was very close to quoting exactly the passage you just did, and also the couple of paragraphs before it - it's one of those sections that is a joy just to read.

In MacDonald's writing, unsurprisingly, similar metaphors return - the score as a battleground, scene of catastrophe and tragedy, and also the celestial mechanics theme - that passage describing the central point of the Gothic's Vivace, for instance, where he talks about the veil being lifted and the engine within being revealed. He gets it spot on. The introduction, too, I was reminding, is sterling stuff, making all the right points succinctly. 

Malcolm MacDonald and I were at school together and were great friends. I vividly remember a holiday we took together as students to Rome! At school our joint interests in Roman History and the works of Tolkien brought us together but our friendship was fuelled by our passionate interest in a whole host of (then) somewhat obscure composers. Many an afternoon and evening were spent listening to LPs he had managed to obtain from American dealers and which-a few years later-I was able to tape. As schoolboys we both began to develop an interest in the music of Havergal Brian. Malcolm has-obviously-gone on to become the foremost expert on Brian's music in the country. I too have always admired the passage from Volume 1 of his books on the Brian Symphonies quoted above. Malcolm's astonishing command of the English language and his ability to so vividly describe the music he loves is nothing new. I can assure you that as a schoolboy his passsion for music and his capacity to inspire an interest in music one had not yet heard was unbelievably infectious.

Together with my own father I owe Malcolm an enormous debt for my own committment to seeking our new music and new composers to explore!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on August 01, 2007, 11:57:27 PM
"I can assure you that as a schoolboy his passion for music and his capacity to inspire an interest in music one had not yet heard was unbelievably infectious."

Hello, Dundonnell! You may like to know that it was Malcolm MacDonald's prose alone that 'converted' me to Brian in 1978. I borrowed the first volume of his Brian study from the library in Amsterdam (I was 17 at the time) and knew at once that I would love this music once I was able to listen to it.

That only happened a year later, when I got hold of the Groves recording of symphonies 8 & 9. Malcolm MacDonald's descriptions were absolutely correct!

Greetings from Delft, Netherlands!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on November 28, 2007, 02:22:57 AM
Havergal Brian died 35 years ago, on 28th November 1972, almost 97 years old.

I'll be listening to some of his symphonies in his honour.

Long may his work live!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Harry on November 28, 2007, 02:49:02 AM
Havergal Brian died 35 years ago, on 28th November 1972, almost 97 years old.

I'll be listening to some of his symphonies in his honour.

Long may his work live!

And now for the complete recordings of his Symphonies.............. $:) ;D
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Dundonnell on November 28, 2007, 02:58:15 AM
And now for the complete recordings of his Symphonies.............. $:) ;D

CPO? If that company can do a complete Pettersson and a complete Villa-Lobos cycle  and commit to a complete set of Henk Badings and Julius Rontgen then 32 Brian symphonies should not be beyond them!!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Harry on November 28, 2007, 03:02:28 AM
CPO? If that company can do a complete Pettersson and a complete Villa-Lobos cycle  and commit to a complete set of Henk Badings and Julius Rontgen then 32 Brian symphonies should not be beyond them!!

I will discuss this with the board...... :)
You are absolutely right!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Lethevich on February 15, 2008, 06:05:17 AM
Just linking these videos (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Havergal_Brian#Videos) in case anyone has not seen them yet :)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: PerfectWagnerite on February 15, 2008, 06:36:50 AM
Just linking these videos (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Havergal_Brian#Videos) in case anyone has not seen them yet :)
Thanks, those are great ! You are going to need a better band than that to bring this music off though. Sorry.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Lethevich on February 15, 2008, 06:46:25 AM
Thanks, those are great ! You are going to need a better band than that to bring this music off though. Sorry.

Indeedie - that's the sad thing about obscure classical music: when it is finally performed, it's often in less than ideal circumstances...
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on February 15, 2008, 06:48:54 AM
Well, all things considering the LSSO do a fine job. I for one am very glad those young kids played the Tenth, because it's still the only Tenth I ever heard...
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on February 15, 2008, 06:57:52 AM
Just linking these videos (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Havergal_Brian#Videos) in case anyone has not seen them yet :)

Thanks, Lethe. I hadn't seen these before.

Sarge
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: PerfectWagnerite on February 15, 2008, 06:59:00 AM
Well, all things considering the LSSO do a fine job. I for one am very glad those young kids played the Tenth, because it's still the only Tenth I ever heard...
I don't for one second question the committment or the enthusiasm of those kids. But this is frighteningly difficult music that even most British orchestras wouldn't touch with the proverbial ten foot pole even though the composer is one of their fellow countryman. That and trying to sort out all the mistakes in the copying of the parts must have been pretty frustrating.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on February 15, 2008, 07:05:17 AM
I don't for one second question the committment or the enthusiasm of those kids. But this is frighteningly difficult music that even most British orchestras wouldn't touch with the proverbial ten foot pole even though the composer is one of their fellow countryman. That and trying to sort out all the mistakes in the copying of the parts must have been pretty frustrating.

All true of course but considering the age of these musicians, I've always thought this was a remarkably good performance. Still, I'd like to hear the music performed by one of the great British orchestras....but I'm not holding my breath.

Sarge
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: PerfectWagnerite on February 15, 2008, 07:11:50 AM
All true of course but considering the age of these musicians, I've always thought this was a remarkably good performance. Still, I'd like to hear the music performed by one of the great British orchestras....but I'm not holding my breath.

Sarge
Can you imagine musicians at the LSO taking a look at this music. THey probably say: WTF??? Give me some Bruckner instead.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: greg on February 15, 2008, 07:20:38 AM
Just linking these videos (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Havergal_Brian#Videos) in case anyone has not seen them yet :)
wow, can't believe i've missed these videos!  :o
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: lukeottevanger on February 15, 2008, 07:34:02 AM
I don't think you should underestimate the musical skills of those LSSO players (many of whom went on to play in professional orchestras only a fews years later). I speak as a member of the same orchestra, but 20 years later (I've played in that hall often!) - we were all in awe of the reputation of the LSSO of the 60s-80s. The influence of Tippett, who was closely linked with the orchestra, ran very deep, and the coincidence of this and the highpoint of the British music education system (which as far as the LSSO went was still in existence when I was a member of the orchestra) helped to make an astonishingly fine orchestra. There was the time in the 1980s, for instance, when this schools orchestra was crowned both 'Best Youth Orchestra' and 'Best Amateur Orchestra' in Europe. Though the sound is raggedy in places in the Brian recording, the parts that matter - xylophone etc - are all very well in place.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: PerfectWagnerite on February 15, 2008, 07:41:47 AM
There was the time in the 1980s, for instance, when this schools orchestra was crowned both 'Best Youth Orchestra' and 'Best Amateur Orchestra' in Europe.
Who crowned them that? Fellow British citizens ;)
The playing is actually very good. The brass is rather weak though. You can tell the tuba and horn players are having a difficult time.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: lukeottevanger on February 15, 2008, 07:45:05 AM
Who crowned them that? Fellow British citizens ;)
The playing is actually very good. The brass is rather weak though. You can tell the tuba and horn players are having a difficult time.

You can tell the same thing on professional Brian recordings, though....

The competition was in Vienna, I think. Austria, at any rate - you cynic!  ;) ;D
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: greg on February 15, 2008, 07:52:58 AM
I don't think you should underestimate the musical skills of those LSSO players (many of whom went on to play in professional orchestras only a fews years later). I speak as a member of the same orchestra, but 20 years later (I've played in that hall often!) - we were all in awe of the reputation of the LSSO of the 60s-80s. The influence of Tippett, who was closely linked with the orchestra, ran very deep, and the coincidence of this and the highpoint of the British music education system (which as far as the LSSO went was still in existence when I was a member of the orchestra) helped to make an astonishingly fine orchestra. There was the time in the 1980s, for instance, when this schools orchestra was crowned both 'Best Youth Orchestra' and 'Best Amateur Orchestra' in Europe. Though the sound is raggedy in places in the Brian recording, the parts that matter - xylophone etc - are all very well in place.
seriously?!
which instrument did you play?
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: lukeottevanger on February 15, 2008, 07:54:04 AM
Cello
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: PerfectWagnerite on February 15, 2008, 07:54:26 AM
You can tell the same thing on professional Brian recordings, though....

True. I distinctly remember in Naxos Gothic where it sounded like the entire brass and percussion section just lost their places in the score.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: greg on February 15, 2008, 07:59:03 AM
Cello
can't believe i never knew that!


True. I distinctly remember in Naxos Gothic where it sounded like the entire brass and percussion section just lost their places in the score.

:o
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: lukeottevanger on February 15, 2008, 08:01:52 AM
True. I distinctly remember in Naxos Gothic where it sounded like the entire brass and percussion section just lost their places in the score.


Well, no, they are always in the right place, I think - I haven't noticed any serious discrepancies in that respect, anyway. Certainly the music is taxing them, but in technical matters it doesn't ask as much of its players as later Brain symphonies, where they are often more exposed too, and playing more unusual figures. In those the later Brian symphonies - like this no 10 - the brass parts are often so fragmented and full of fast, angular solo lines, which really can hardly help but give an impression strain. No 8, my favourite Brian symphony, is well-served on its recording, given the dastardly brass/percussion writing in that work, but even this scarcely avoids the impression of 'boy, this is difficult!'
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: lukeottevanger on February 15, 2008, 08:06:52 AM
Actually, those final brass/percussion flurries in the Gothic - an utterly awesome moment - yes, they do struggle here, but I think much of the problem is also the recording at this point. The timps, for instance, are playing the right things as far as I can hear, but as some are more given more prominence than others, it seems that those others are playing sloppily. Ditto with the brass parts here, which are an absolute nightmare. Even so, the playing never diverges from the score more than one would expect, and it's played with conviction, not as if the players are lost. This is the only part of the recording which really pushes at this particular envelope, though, to my mind, and I find it hard to imagine how it couldn't - this is such an extraordinary section of music I can't quite see how it could be recorded faithfully!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: lukeottevanger on February 15, 2008, 08:13:17 AM
I'd also add that a sense of difficulty and strain is entirely to the point here, and elsewhere in Brian symphonies. This is often music of extreme power, pushing right at the boundaries of what orchestras can do; in the case of the final minutes of the Gothic, I think this music is about as apocalyptic as things get. A serenely slick reading, every note spick and span, would be rather out-of-place, I think, and I'd rather hear the players straining every sinew as they battle with the notes in sections like this.

I'm not making this point in relation to the LSSO recording necessarily, though it does apply at times.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: PerfectWagnerite on February 15, 2008, 08:16:01 AM
Actually, those final brass/percussion flurries in the Gothic - an utterly awesome moment - yes, they do struggle here, but I think much of the problem is also the recording at this point. The timps, for instance, are playing the right things as far as I can hear, but as some are more given more prominence than others, it seems that those others are playing sloppily. Ditto with the brass parts here, which are an absolute nightmare. Even so, the playing never diverges from the score more than one would expect, and it's played with conviction, not as if the players are lost. This is the only part of the recording which really pushes at this particular envelope, though, to my mind, and I find it hard to imagine how it couldn't - this is such an extraordinary section of music I can't quite see how it could be recorded faithfully!
Yeah, could be so. I think it is also shameful how horrendous the sonics were that Marco Polo afforded some of the Brian works (like the Gothic, and also #4 and 12). You get the feeling they didn't exactly put their 'A' team of recording engineers on the job.

I would really like to hear a top-tier brass section like the Staatskapelle Dresden tackle this music !
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: lukeottevanger on February 15, 2008, 08:20:25 AM
Yeah, could be so. I think it is also shameful how horrendous the sonics were that Marco Polo afforded some of the Brian works (like the Gothic, and also #4 and 12). You get the feeling they didn't exactly put their 'A' team of recording engineers on the job.

Yes, you could be right. OTOH, the Gothic and no 4 are such big works that they present very unusual challenges. Only something like Mahler 8 is comparable, but - and this is the real challenge of the Brian, I think - the contrapuntal complexity is greater in the Brian, making him much more tricky to record, I should imagine. That's not a value judgement, btw, just a statement of fact verifiable by putting the scores side-by-side - in fact, one could just say that Mahler was more pragmatic here and made all his lines easy to follow.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: PerfectWagnerite on February 15, 2008, 08:39:52 AM
I think it also has a lot to do with familiarity also. I bet if I listen to the Gothic as many times I listen to Mahler's 9th I would hear a lot more details than I think I hear having only heard it a few times.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: lukeottevanger on February 15, 2008, 08:49:36 AM
I think it also has a lot to do with familiarity also. I bet if I listen to the Gothic as many times I listen to Mahler's 9th I would hear a lot more details than I think I hear having only heard it a few times.

Undoubtedly true, I think.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: lukeottevanger on February 19, 2008, 05:17:15 AM
Maybe this should go under 'purchases today', but I feel it belongs here instead: a minor discovery today, whilst trawling charity shops - the Hull recording of the First English Suite/Fantastic Variations etc., and the LSSO recording of the 22rd Symph, the Fifth English Suite and Psalm 23, all on beautiful, fine condition LPs. £3 each! (There were racks and racks of great stuff, some very rare, but I could only afford some of it today, the Brian obviously part of it)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on February 19, 2008, 05:25:24 AM
Maybe this should go under 'purchases today', but I feel it belongs here instead: a minor discovery today, whilst trawling charity shops - the Hull recording of the First English Suite/Fantastic Variations etc., and the LSSO recording of the 22rd Symph, the Fifth English Suite and Psalm 23, all on beautiful, fine condition LPs. £3 each! (There were racks and racks of great stuff, some very rare, but I could only afford some of it today, the Brian obviously part of it)

Incredible! I know them all. The Hull Youth Orchestra is struggling of course, more than the LSSO. Still - their climax of the Fantastic Variations is better than on the Marco Polo (organ is ad lib., but they have one, which makes it much more Brianic). 'Reverie', in the Fifth English Suite, is a beautiful piece (strings a bit off, but it's better than nothing). And Psalm 23 is done very well.

Ah, this brings back memories...
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on February 19, 2008, 06:34:57 AM
Maybe this should go under 'purchases today', but I feel it belongs here instead: a minor discovery today, whilst trawling charity shops - the Hull recording of the First English Suite/Fantastic Variations etc., and the LSSO recording of the 22rd Symph, the Fifth English Suite and Psalm 23, all on beautiful, fine condition LPs. £3 each! (There were racks and racks of great stuff, some very rare, but I could only afford some of it today, the Brian obviously part of it)

Great find! I've long had the LSSO LP but never did manage to locate the Hull. Congratulations!

Sarge
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Dundonnell on February 19, 2008, 07:02:35 AM
Yes, I have those LPs too! Treasured possessions which I rather ignored for many years until I got my old turntable back up and running!

I also have another LP(Cameo Classics GOCLP9012) of the Hull Youth Symphony Orchestra playing "In Memoriam", "For Valour" and the Festal Dance. All of these works have, of course, now been recorded for CD. The advantage of the LPs you have managed to buy are that these are the only versions of the First and Fifth English Suites and Symphony No.22 available.

Every day now I scan the new releases pages looking for the promised Lyrita CD release of the 6th and 16th symphonies. A lot of fans are anxiously awaiting this particular CD!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: pjme on February 19, 2008, 11:38:47 AM


Every day now I scan the new releases pages looking for the promised Lyrita CD release of the 6th and 16th symphonies. A lot of fans are anxiously awaiting this particular CD!

Wasn't this Cd promised for February????

Peter
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on February 19, 2008, 12:00:30 PM
Wasn't this Cd promised for February????

Anything connected with Brian demands patience (and longevity).  ;)

Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: pjme on February 19, 2008, 12:12:26 PM
 ;D Diepe zucht.....Sigh! You're propably right.

So, ..let's see what's on the Radio tonight!

Peter
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Dundonnell on February 20, 2008, 06:49:22 AM
Wasn't this Cd promised for February????

Peter

It was! However my CD supplier(MDT of Derby, UK) has just published their March New Releases "Complete List" and there are no new Lyrita on it.

As Jezetha says.."patience and longevity"! I am not sure how much of either I possess :)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Dundonnell on February 21, 2008, 05:57:13 AM
Aha!!  MusicWeb International is advertising 3 new Lyrita releases for 'February 2008'-

Havergal Brian's Symphony No.6 'Sinfonia Tragica' and Arnold Cooke's Symphony No.3(SRCD 295)-I presume that the Brian 16th
     Symphony is being included on the CD although it isn't mentioned! (At 19 minutes for the Brian 6th and 24 minutes for the Cooke the
     CD would be ridiculously short measure without the 16th)

The Violin Concertos by Peter Racine Fricker and Don Banks(both from an old Argo LP) and David Morgan's Violin Concerto(SRCD 276)

Gordon Crosse's Opera "Purgatory"(SRCD 313-CD single available for a limited time only)

These new CDs can be ordered from Musicweb International. Presumably other retailers will be advertsing the new releases shortly.

Patience IS rewarded!!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: lukeottevanger on February 21, 2008, 06:03:16 AM
Good news! Thanks for that. My Brian collection, less complete than those of some of you older fellas (  ;D   :P ) because limited to CDs (though I have all those that are available) until my LP finds of this week, is going to fill up nicely with the eventual arrival of this issue. I've longed to hear these works for a long time.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Dundonnell on February 21, 2008, 06:26:19 AM
Good news! Thanks for that. My Brian collection, less complete than those of some of you older fellas (  ;D   :P ) because limited to CDs (though I have all those that are available) until my LP finds of this week, is going to fill up nicely with the eventual arrival of this issue. I've longed to hear these works for a long time.

You will not be disappointed(I hope!). The 6th and 16th are amongst Brian's finest symphonies-indeed the 16th has some claims to rank as his greatest.
As one of the "older fellas" I have been lucky enough to possess the LP of the two symphonies for 33 years. The performances of both works are superb.
Myer Fredman was/is an exceptionally fine conductor and he did these symphonies proud!

I cannot resist the temptation of quoting the last two sentences of the chapter on the 16th in Malcolm MacDonald's book on the Brian symphonies-

    "This whole coda, in fact, sums up something of what Brian stood for-a dogged, heroic confrontation of chaos and the unknown that could
       transform them into art of the highest power and complexity, could consume them into the very stuff and resources of tradition, and could
       bind them to his will by the absolute and sovereign power of the human imagination. This tremendous symphony, which seems to say most
       of the things worth saying about the world without a single wasted note, triumphantly succeeds in that aim, at every level and all along
       the line."

Some might assert that the language is florid and the sentiment over-emphatic but few would deny that it is hard to resist being, at the very least, intrigued by such an enthusiastic appraisal!

Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on February 21, 2008, 06:26:43 AM
Aha!!  MusicWeb International is advertising 3 new Lyrita releases for 'February 2008'-

Havergal Brian's Symphony No.6 'Sinfonia Tragica' and Arnold Cooke's Symphony No.3(SRCD 295)-I presume that the Brian 16th
     Symphony is being included on the CD although it isn't mentioned! (At 19 minutes for the Brian 6th and 24 minutes for the Cooke the
     CD would be ridiculously short measure without the 16th)


Patience IS rewarded!!

'At last!' the Oldie gasped.

P.S. Just saw Dundonnell's endorsement of the Brian 6 & 16. I agree. And that coda of the Sixteenth is as terrifying as it is triumphant.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: lukeottevanger on February 21, 2008, 06:40:53 AM
I'm one who has salivated over MacDonald's descriptions of many of the symphonies, but these two stand out from particularly even from just reading about them!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on February 21, 2008, 06:43:42 AM
I'm one who has salivated over MacDonald's descriptions of many of the symphonies, but these two stand out from particularly even from just reading about them!

Do you know that MM's books were once all my friends and I had, and I once read his description of the Sixteenth aloud, in lieu of listening to the real thing.... Isn't that sad?!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on February 21, 2008, 08:35:04 AM
Do you know that MM's books were once all my friends and I had, and I once read his description of the Sixteenth aloud, in lieu of listening to the real thing.... Isn't that sad?!

A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do   ;)  I don't know how many times I read MacDonald's description of the Gothic before I finally heard it.

The 6th and 16th are amongst Brian's finest symphonies-indeed the 16th has some claims to rank as his greatest....

I thought I was alone in considering the 16th to be the greatest of his symphonies. Wonderful place, the web, where great minds come together and think alike  ;D

Sarge
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: edward on March 02, 2008, 01:59:57 PM
MDT has the 6th & 16th as an April new release: http://www.mdt.co.uk/MDTSite/product/NR_April08/SRCD295.htm
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on March 03, 2008, 08:24:16 AM
MDT has the 6th & 16th as an April new release: http://www.mdt.co.uk/MDTSite/product/NR_April08/SRCD295.htm

Thanks for the info. I pre-ordered it.

Sarge
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: PerfectWagnerite on March 03, 2008, 08:25:46 AM
Thanks for the info. I pre-ordered it.

Sarge

10 pounds? That's like 20 bucks...for ONE cd ?
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on March 03, 2008, 08:33:29 AM
10 pounds? That's like 20 bucks...for ONE cd ?

I look at it this way: the two Brian symphonies and the Cooke symphony were originally released on two LPs but they are appearing together on one CD. A bargain as far as I'm concerned. And too, 10 pounds is only 13 Euro (my currency), which is way below full price in Germany (€19.99).

Sarge
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: springrite on March 03, 2008, 09:20:21 AM
Just finished listening to the Brian violin concerto, Symphony #18. After the first couple of minutes of the concerto which did not grab me, it keeps getting better. This is a magnificent concerto! The symphony is also very good. One thing about Brian, he is never boring. I am slowly getting a hang of it now. Will give Gothic another good attentive listening next week!

If I ever see the symphony #8 which has been touted about here, I will surely get it.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 03, 2008, 09:29:48 AM
Just finished listening to the Brian violin concerto, Symphony #18. After the first couple of minutes of the concerto which did not grab me, it keeps getting better. This is a magnificent concerto! The symphony is also very good. One thing about Brian, he is never boring. I am slowly getting a hang of it now. Will give Gothic another good attentive listening next week!

If I ever see the symphony #8 which has been touted about here, I will surely get it.

I am very glad you are getting into Brian! The Violin Concerto is indeed a magnificent work, with some of the loveliest melodies Brian ever devised, and the playing of Marat Bisengaliev is superb. I had the pleasure of hearing and seeing him perform this work live, in London, at St. James's Church, Piccadilly, in 1995. And that performance was even better than the recorded one! As far as the Eighteenth is concerned - in the BBC radio performance, of which I have a tape cassette (!), the slow movement is more powerful, but otherwise the Marco Polo is quite good.

I wonder whether the Eighth is still available (on a two-fer, with the Ninth, Seventh and Thirty-First, too). If not, I think I could help you out...
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: springrite on March 03, 2008, 09:37:21 AM
Other than the Gothic and the violin concerto CD which I found during my trip to Toronto, the rest I found in second hand shops. So that was just luck. I think the 5 CDs I have are the 5 (or 6) that are somewhat easily available. The rest are harder to come by.

The funny thing is, I found out about Brian because I had a double LP of the Gothic which I never listened to because I did not and still do not have a turntable. Reading notes on that LP got me intrigued.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 03, 2008, 09:50:51 AM
The funny thing is, I found out about Brian because I had a double LP of the Gothic which I never listened to because I did not and still do not have a turntable. Reading notes on that LP got me intrigued.

That double LP - is that the pirated recording of the Boult 'Gothic', on Aries?
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: edward on March 03, 2008, 10:03:12 AM
10 pounds? That's like 20 bucks...for ONE cd ?
It's only that expensive because the US dollar stinks right now. ;) (Also, export orders only pay 8.51: no VAT on them.)

I'm interested in this disc too, since I've heard such good things about the 6th symphony. So far, I only have two Brian discs: the original Marco Polo release with the violin concerto & 18th symphony (like it) and the Hyperion 3rd symphony (don't like it).
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: johnQpublic on March 03, 2008, 10:39:42 AM
So far, I only have two Brian discs: the original Marco Polo release with the violin concerto & 18th symphony (like it) and the Hyperion 3rd symphony (don't like it).

You're not alone regarding the 3rd.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 03, 2008, 11:02:13 AM
You're not alone regarding the 3rd.

I know the first performance of the Third (under Stanley Pope, if I'm not mistaken). And that's superior to the Hyperion. The Hyperion was recorded at the Maida Vale studios, and the acoustics are simply nor right for this work - a big orchestra must have room to breathe. I was present at a studio performance that preceded the final recording, and I noticed those cramped acoustics.

So - don't be hasty writing a work off. Most of Brian's symphonies have been performed and/or recorded only a few times. And it's sheer good luck when the only performances you have are excellent (like the Lyrita Sixth and Sixteenth).
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: lukeottevanger on March 05, 2008, 06:17:58 AM
HB no 5 is on Radio Three sometime in the next hour or two!   ;D  ;D  ;D I'm going to try to record it, but I don't fancy my chances, so if anyone else wanted to have a go, I'm sure they would be eternally loved....

(Apparently they've been playing a lot of HB this week, but I've missed all of it, apart from a part-song they played a few minutes ago  >:( >:( >:( >:( )
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 05, 2008, 06:21:26 AM
HB no 5 is on Radio Three sometime in the next hour or two!   ;D  ;D  ;D I'm going to try to record it, but I don't fancy my chances, so if anyone else wanted to have a go, I'm sure they would be eternally loved....

(Apparently they've been playing a lot of HB this week, but I've missed all of it, apart from a part-song they played a few minutes ago  >:( >:( >:( >:( )

Thanks for warning us! I'll see what I can do, but I have to leave the house in an hour's time...
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: lukeottevanger on March 05, 2008, 06:25:54 AM
I've been looking.....you can also listen again to the yesterdays broadcast, which includes symph 30; I suppose today's broadcast OF 5 will be available soon too. Tomorrow has no 18 and Friday has no 3. But it's 5 that interests me!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 05, 2008, 06:31:16 AM
I've been looking.....you can also listen again to the yesterdays broadcast, which includes symph 30; I suppose today's broadcast OF 5 will be available soon too. Tomorrow has no 18 and Friday has no 3. But it's 5 that interests me!

The 30th is really terrific! I only have that on cassette. And this Fifth is a performance I don't know!

I think I am going to see about that 30th. Bruch has just started.

Addition: I use the Opera browser, and getting to the part of a program you want to hear is a bit difficult, so I'll have to switch to IE. I have a free software programme 'Audacity', that lets you record streams. So I must be able to keep those Brian works...
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: lukeottevanger on March 05, 2008, 07:01:26 AM
The 30th is really terrific! I only have that on cassette. And this Fifth is a performance I don't know!

I think I am going to see about that 30th. Bruch has just started.

Addition: I use the Opera browser, and getting to the part of a program you want to hear is a bit difficult, so I'll have to switch to IE. I have a free software programme 'Audacity', that lets you record streams. So I must be able to keep those Brian works...

I've just finished listening to 30 (and recording it too, though I suspect I could have got more quality using a different method). I too had [have] 30 on cassette, recorded off R3 at some point in the 90s, which is why I was particularly keen to hear 5, which I have only ever read about (with mouth watering!) in MacDonald. But it's still good to have 30 recorded digitally now.

What with this no 5, the forthcoming 6 and 16, and my recent LP finds, I'm having a high old Havergal time at the moment!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on March 05, 2008, 08:11:48 AM
HB no 5 is on Radio Three sometime in the next hour or two!

Thanks for the heads up, Luke. I'm tuned in. The Mozart is currently playing. HB5 next  8)

Sarge
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 05, 2008, 08:14:30 AM
Thanks for the heads up, Luke. I'm tuned in. The Mozart is currently playing. HB5 next  8)

Sarge

Listening, too! Slow movement winding down now.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: lukeottevanger on March 05, 2008, 09:09:00 AM
 :) :) So, if you want to use the 'listen again' feature after the broadcast has finished (I will be, to record the thing!), don't forget to listen to a point a little earlier too - I suppose it would have been at about 1:50-ish UK time - to the broadcast of the HB partsong. Tiny, but exquisite.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on March 07, 2008, 12:23:34 AM
Lyrita are finally showing the forthcoming Brian release on their website:

http://www.lyrita.co.uk/
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 07, 2008, 12:28:22 AM
Lyrita are finally showing the forthcoming Brian release on their website:

http://www.lyrita.co.uk/

Well well. It's 2008. Finally these classic recordings are available again!

Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Dundonnell on March 07, 2008, 01:39:30 AM
Lyrita are finally showing the forthcoming Brian release on their website:

http://www.lyrita.co.uk/

I normally use MDT but Europadisc advertised the new Lyrita first so I ordered from them. The discs are in the post!!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: pjme on March 07, 2008, 02:03:44 AM
 :D :D :D Good news! I will buy that CD.

I have an old (open reel )tape of nr 5 "Wine of summer" ( Brian Rayner Cook as baritone soloist). It is an impressive,strong symphony - but since I have no longer a tape recorder....I' haven't listened to it in years.
I couldn't find the poem ( indeed, by Oscar Wilde's "Bosie") , but it is described by some as "awful"....
This is from http://www.havergalbrian.org/brianforeman.htm

Brian’s hand, in pencil]

I Symphony ‘Wine of Summer’.
The poem ‘Wine of Summer’ by Alfred Douglas must have been written in Sussex, for years ago he lived with his mother the Marchioness of Queensbury at a house not far from Lewes. The poem is of a subjective Nocturnal type quality distinction such as is met with in much of Shelley’s poetry - particularly the Indian Song ‘I arise from dreams of thee’. The word ‘Wine’ only occurs once in ‘Wine of Summer’ and has no relation to the Common Noun of that name.
The Symphony was composed at Upper Norwood: the first sketches were finished on Sunday April 18 1937.

II The Symphony is Scored for a large modern orchestra and Baritone soloist.
It opens with a short quiet passage for the orchestra leading to the theme announced by the Soloist with orchestra to the opening words of the poem: "The Sun holds all the earth / and all the Sky" On this theme the Symphony continues the music varied by changes of rhythm and tonality, but interrupted by several dramatic episodes by the orchestra. The climax of the Symphony is contained in the closing bars where the Soloist sings: ‘I must hence. / Far off I hear night / Calling to the Sea’ accompanied by the full power of the orchestra in which is heard broken fragments of the opening theme of the Symphony.

11 Atlantic Court, Shoreham by Sea, Sussex, 14’ Nov. 1969
Dear Lewis Foreman, I would be glad if in my writing about the Symphony requested by you an alteration might be made by you.
I wrote____passages apart from several interruptions from the orchestra alone or something like that
I wish to alter it to:—
apart from several important passages for orchestra alone which emphasise the argument of the poem
I am puzzled how the close of the Cadenza for Solo Violin got onto the Clarinet stave.
Please make sure[?sense] of my errors and correct.
If it is no trouble I should like to see a proof of the writing about the poem & Symphony.
In my reference to Shelleys famous poem ‘I arise from dreams of thee’ It is labelled by Shelley Indian Serenade please see I’ve written correctly. I enclose a copy of the Douglas letter you need.
Sincerely, Havergal Brian



Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 07, 2008, 02:09:20 AM
I have that same performance of 'Wine of Summer', Peter, on cassette. It's a strong work, as you say. I don't know why the BBC chose another, less impressive, performance the other day.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Dundonnell on March 07, 2008, 03:28:21 AM
In a letter to me-dated 30 December 1999-Malcolm MacDonald wrote that Symphony No.5 was recorded by Marco Polo along with Symphony No.11. However, Brian Rayner Cook, the soloist, was unhappy with the performance-as were several other people who heard the tapes. As a new set of sessions couldn't be scheduled, explorations went on to see if another soloist could be dubbed. These turned out to be fruitless and the recording was eventually junked(to Marco Polo's displeasure!).

Malcolm went on to write that Marco Polo was planning one new disc per year and that the next volume would be recorded in the spring(2000). It would have contained Symphonies Nos. 22, 23 and 24 coupled with English Suite No.3. I presume that this recording never took place since no such CD was ever issued.

All very sad!! Presumably those in the Brian Society have more up to date news.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 07, 2008, 03:36:20 AM
In a letter to me-dated 30 December 1999-Malcolm MacDonald wrote that Symphony No.5 was recorded by Marco Polo along with Symphony No.11. However, Brian Rayner Cook, the soloist, was unhappy with the performance-as were several other people who heard the tapes. As a new set of sessions couldn't be scheduled, explorations went on to see if another soloist could be dubbed. These turned out to be fruitless and the recording was eventually junked(to Marco Polo's displeasure!).

Malcolm went on to write that Marco Polo was planning one new disc per year and that the next volume would be recorded in the spring(2000). It would have contained Symphonies Nos. 22, 23 and 24 coupled with English Suite No.3. I presume that this recording never took place since no such CD was ever issued.

All very sad!! Presumably those in the Brian Society have more up to date news.

What you write is correct. I know Brian Rayner Cook was dissatisfied (I heard it from Alan Marshall, the Secretary of the HBS, in 1995, or thereabouts), and that that was the reason the recording was never released. Regarding the Brian series, it has effectively been discontinued, another victim of the classical music crisis.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Dundonnell on March 07, 2008, 04:03:11 AM
What you write is correct. I know Brian Rayner Cook was dissatisfied (I heard it from Alan Marshall, the Secretary of the HBS, in 1995, or thereabouts), and that that was the reason the recording was never released. Regarding the Brian series, it has effectively been discontinued, another victim of the classical music crisis.

"The classical music crisis" which we hear about so often and which undoubtedly has led to the vast reduction in recordings made by the major record companies does not seem to inhibit the smaller companies from recording and releasing rare repertoire which must have a limited market. Naxos itself releases a very substantial number of CDs each month. Companies like CPO in Germany have a recording schedule which includes series of compositions which must have a limited appeal to the general public. Naxos are recording the symphonies of the Portugese composer Luis Freitas Branco, CPO appears to have committed itself to the complete symphonies of Julius Rontgen(over 20 of them!) and Henk Badings and has almost completed its set of the complete Weingartner symphonies. This is not exactly core repertoire!

I don't resent this-FAR from it!! I just simply don't understand the argument that music like this will sell but Brian won't!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 07, 2008, 04:12:51 AM
I just simply don't understand the argument that music like this will sell but Brian won't!

Perhaps. But I remember MM writing somewhere that Brian's music was expensive to produce - it's demanding, often involves large orchestras, it's written in an idiom that conductors and players have to assimilate, for which there isn't the time, apart from the fact that there still aren't that many buyers out there in the first place (though more exposure and better performances could create an audience)... So the 'Brian problem' remains. I don't think another label will start another Brian series in the near future, nor will anyone pick it up where Marco Polo left off, more's the pity.

I hope I am overly pessimistic...  :-\

Johan
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Dundonnell on March 07, 2008, 04:27:23 AM
I accept that Brian's music is difficult for orchestras and conductors to assimilate and perform but two BBC orchestras have performed Symphonies Nos. 5 and 30 in broadcasts this week. Would it not have been possible for there to have been a recording link-up as has happened in the past with other works? CPO obviously use radio broadcasts of performances in this way.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 07, 2008, 04:46:25 AM
I accept that Brian's music is difficult for orchestras and conductors to assimilate and perform but two BBC orchestras have performed Symphonies Nos. 5 and 30 in broadcasts this week. Would it not have been possible for there to have been a recording link-up as has happened in the past with other works? CPO obviously use radio broadcasts of performances in this way.

The 30th was performed quite well - only a few glitches here and there. But that Fifth as the only available recording? I found the soloist very flat and uninspired; he sounded as if he had the age that befits the poem without the vocal abilities to make that into a moving fact; as the baritone is the centre of attention in 'Wine of Summer', I don't think I'd listen to that performance very often...
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: springrite on March 07, 2008, 04:53:25 AM
That double LP - is that the pirated recording of the Boult 'Gothic', on Aries?

It is in storage right now, and I can't remember if it is the Aries.

No, the 2fer is not available. It is only available from private sellers for a price.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on March 07, 2008, 06:03:30 AM
The 30th was performed quite well - only a few glitches here and there. But that Fifth as the only available recording? I found the soloist very flat and uninspired; he sounded as if he had the age that befits the poem without the vocal abilities to make that into a moving fact; as the baritone is the centre of attention in 'Wine of Summer', I don't think I'd listen to that performance very often...

Perhaps he is less than an ideal soloist but I'd still buy the recording. Better that than nothing! You know, the BBC includes a CD with their magazine so pressing a CD couldn't be that expensive. And since it would be the only recording available, it would sell.

Sarge
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 07, 2008, 06:10:08 AM
Perhaps he is less than an ideal soloist but I'd still buy the recording. Better that than nothing! You know, the BBC includes a CD with their magazine so pressing a CD couldn't be that expensive. And since it would be the only recording available, it would sell.

Sarge

I have the (superior) 1976 performance on cassette. That's my problem (or luxury...), Sarge.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on March 07, 2008, 06:23:14 AM
I have the (superior) 1976 performance on cassette. That's my problem (or luxury...), Sarge.

I have absolutely no problem with BBC giving us that one instead.  :)

Sarge
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Dundonnell on March 07, 2008, 07:31:54 AM
Perhaps he is less than an ideal soloist but I'd still buy the recording. Better that than nothing! You know, the BBC includes a CD with their magazine so pressing a CD couldn't be that expensive. And since it would be the only recording available, it would sell.

Sarge

What an EXCELLENT idea!! Not that the BBC would do it of course :(

I too have the Brian broadcasts from the 70s on tape but-as pjme-the tapes are reel-to-reel and my old tape player is bust :( :(
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 08, 2008, 01:04:19 PM
I'd like to draw attention to Brian's Third, yesterday, on BBC Radio Three. I listened to it and it's not the same performance as on the Hyperion CD. This is another one recorded at the Maida Vale studios (in 1988), before a live audience, which included me. I think this performance is better than on the CD, so I urge every Brianite to Listen Again (and record it, if they can). I will... The symphony starts around 4:00:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/afternoonon3/pip/czlw2/
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 09, 2008, 02:26:19 PM
Just received the HBS Newsletter (by email). One nice item concerns a bus named after Brian (!). The Editor comments humorously:

Who was it who said that Brian was ‘long on parentheses and short on transitions’? Anyway, I’ve always been convinced of the truth of this remark which does not bode well for passengers on the bus who, presumably, will be treated to extensive diversions down country lanes, suddenly finding themselves at their destination without understanding how they got there.

Look for Brian on the list:

http://history.buses.co.uk/history/fleethist/672hb.htm
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: lukeottevanger on March 09, 2008, 02:34:38 PM
I like the bio, skirting the borders of accuracy as it does!  ;D Should we be surprised that the bus pictured is 'out of service', Marco Polo style?
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 09, 2008, 02:39:19 PM
I like the bio, skirting the borders of accuracy as it does!  ;D Should we be surprised that the bus pictured is 'out of service', Marco Polo style?

Well it actually reads 'Not in service', which captures Brian's proud, unbending character quite well, I think...  ;)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: lukeottevanger on March 09, 2008, 02:51:42 PM
So it does - that puts a rather more positive spin on it. ;)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: lukeottevanger on March 09, 2008, 02:57:01 PM
BTW, does anyone know if there were any hidden Brianic gems on the recent R3 broadcasts other than the symphonies? I know there was a partsong broadcast on the same day as the 5th - happily, I managed to record it - but of course being a small piece it wasn't listed on the website, so I'm worried there might be other such splinters from the workbench up for grabs. But I don't really have time to listen to all 8 hours to find out.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 09, 2008, 03:02:05 PM
As I indicated earlier, I did listen to the Third. The presenter didn't say that any other Brian work was on offer, so I don't think you are missing out on any 'Brianic gems', Luke.

Btw - at the forthcoming AGM of the HBS, Malcolm MacDonald will be presenting volume two (at last) of 'Havergal Brian on music'. A pity I can't be there.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Hattoff on March 10, 2008, 07:01:31 AM
I'm another longtime Brian fan and it's good to see so much interest in him. I caught two little hidden gems on last weeks broadcast. The first was "Shall I compare thee to a summers day" which I once had on a reel to reel tape and have not heard for years. The second was "Sweet Solitude". I believe there was a third but I missed it.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: lukeottevanger on March 10, 2008, 08:27:19 AM
I'm another longtime Brian fan and it's good to see so much interest in him. I caught two little hidden gems on last weeks broadcast. The first was "Shall I compare thee to a summers day" which I once had on a reel to reel tape and have not heard for years. The second was "Sweet Solitude". I believe there was a third but I missed it.

Do you happen to remember which day([s) these two were broadcast? I missed them, but I managed to record another (O happiness celestial fair), which I assume is the third one you are referring to. Recording quality isn't all it could be, though, and I'd urge anyone who can do a better job to catch last week's broadcasts whilst they are still available.

Thanks
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Hattoff on March 10, 2008, 10:03:20 AM
Brian "sweet solitude"  04/03/08 just before 17:00 hrs
Brian "shall I compare thee to a summer's day" 03/03/08 also just before 17:00 hrs
If you have trouble with the sound quality get back to me.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: lukeottevanger on March 10, 2008, 11:12:04 AM
Thank you! The earlier one is no longer available  >:( >:( (if anyone has it..... :-* :-* ) but I'm scanning through for the other one right now
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Hattoff on March 10, 2008, 11:27:43 AM
Okay,  I'll get back to you.
Steve
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Dundonnell on March 13, 2008, 10:25:24 AM
Great Day indeed!! 1975 was the year in which Lyrita issued Symphonies Nos. 6 and 16 on vinyl: one of my most treasured albums over the last 33 years.

And now today I am at last able to listen to these two stupendous symphonies on CD, to marvel at the genius of this great composer and to be so grateful that Myer Fredman could inspire the London Philharmonic Orchestra of its day to such truly splendid performances!

If you have this CD on order then you are in for a treat! (The Arnold Cooke Symphony No.3 is a good work too-Hindemithian, busy, well-constructed but sadly, from its point of view, does rather suffer by comparison. Maybe Lyrita should have put it first on the CD? Best perhaps not to listen to the Cooke immediately after the Brian?)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 13, 2008, 10:31:33 AM
Great Day indeed!! 1975 was the year in which Lyrita issued Symphonies Nos. 6 and 16 on vinyl: one of my most treasured albums over the last 33 years.

And now today I am at last able to listen to these two stupendous symphonies on CD, to marvel at the genius of this great composer and to be so grateful that Myer Fredman could inspire the London Philharmonic Orchestra of its day to such truly splendid performances!

If you have this CD on order then you are in for a treat! (The Arnold Cooke Symphony No.3 is a good work too-Hindemithian, busy, well-constructed but sadly, from its point of view, does rather suffer by comparison. Maybe Lyrita should have put it first on the CD? Best perhaps not to listen to the Cooke immediately after the Brian?)

Ah... I know what you express so eloquently.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: lukeottevanger on March 13, 2008, 10:52:45 AM
I've spent the last few days re-immersing myself in HB (and in the three MacDonald volumes). My primary emotion - I'm am staggered all over again by this music and its creator. He was, in a genuine sense, a Hero (capital H), wasn't he? Sustained dignity, passion, humour, imagination, courage, conviction, energy, humility.

[to HB skeptics - I apologise for the gushiness here! HB admirer will know what I mean, I hope]
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on March 13, 2008, 10:54:19 AM
If you have this CD on order then you are in for a treat!

I do have it ordered and I'm a bit annoyed I've not received a message saying it's on its way to me.

Sarge

Edit: They must've heard me grumbling  ;D  I just checked my email and there was a message from MDT: HB is in the mail  8)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on March 13, 2008, 10:55:09 AM
I've spent the last few days re-immersing myself in HB (and in the three MacDonald volumes). My primary emotion - I'm am staggered all over again by this music and its creator. He was, in a genuine sense, a Hero (capital H), wasn't he? Sustained dignity, passion, humour, imagination, courage, conviction, energy, humility.

[to HB skeptics - I apologise for the gushiness here! HB admirer will know what I mean, I hope]

Preach on, brother Luke!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: lukeottevanger on March 13, 2008, 11:01:12 AM
Quote
Preach on, brother Luke!

 0:) I take my reading from MacDonald III, chapter 33  0:)

Quote
what impresses one most strongly in his symphonies is the raw, unquenchable will to survive, to fight, to go on making music at all costs against external and internal disasters - and still to have his private jokes against the slow wits under the wise wigs. He is the 'Awkward Cuss' who will do no man's bidding but his own, cunning enough to survive into the mellowed old age of a 'Geriatric Prodigy': the Working Man as Great Composer, crafty through and through
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: BachQ on March 13, 2008, 11:52:03 AM
I've spent the last few days re-immersing myself in HB (and in the three MacDonald volumes). My primary emotion - I'm am staggered all over again by this music and its creator. He was, in a genuine sense, a Hero (capital H), wasn't he? Sustained dignity, passion, humour, imagination, courage, conviction, energy, humility.

[to HB skeptics - I apologise for the gushiness here! HB admirer will know what I mean, I hope]



We haven't witnessed a gush-a-thon of this magnitude since 71dB's defunct Elgar thread ........  :D

Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: lukeottevanger on March 13, 2008, 11:55:31 AM
We haven't witnessed a gush-a-thon of this magnitude since 71dB's defunct Elgar thread ........  :D



Well, exactly, I thought it about time  ;D  Mendelssohn (just for example  0:) ) isn't really a glamorous enough figure to gush about, it seems to me, but Brian? Now there's a real composer!  >:D ;D
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 13, 2008, 01:00:16 PM
Havergal Brian has been the composer who sustained me during the most difficult years of my life. Long may his music live.

A review by Rob Barnett:

http://www.musicweb.uk.net/classrev/2008/Mar08/Brian_Cooke_SRCD295.htm
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Dundonnell on March 13, 2008, 02:28:10 PM
Havergal Brian has been the composer who sustained me during the most difficult years of my life. Long may his music live.

A review by Rob Barnett:

http://www.musicweb.uk.net/classrev/2008/Mar08/Brian_Cooke_SRCD295.htm

Rob Barnett makes the point that there are no connections between Brian and Cooke. While I understand what he means, Brian was actually an admirer of Arnold Cooke's music. In 1936 Brian hailed the 30 year old Cooke as one of the most promising young British composers and praised his ability "to think and breathe contrapuntally"(Musical Opinion). It is therefore quite a nice juxtaposition of the two composers on the new CD.

Cooke is certainly a most worthy and craftsmanlike composer whose music merits rediscovery. He is not, however, a composer of the same stature as HB.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on March 13, 2008, 11:53:26 PM
Rob Barnett makes the point that there are no connections between Brian and Cooke. While I understand what he means, Brian was actually an admirer of Arnold Cooke's music. In 1936 Brian hailed the 30 year old Cooke as one of the most promising young British composers and praised his ability "to think and breathe contrapuntally"(Musical Opinion). It is therefore quite a nice juxtaposition of the two composers on the new CD.

Cooke is certainly a most worthy and craftsmanlike composer whose music merits rediscovery. He is not, however, a composer of the same stature as HB.

Very interesting. Why don't you let Rob Barnett know this? He'll probably add it on to his Music Web review.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: edward on March 14, 2008, 02:49:10 PM
Well, here goes for my first experience of the Gothic. If I don't get interrupted, I'll be back for comments in a couple of hours. ;)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 14, 2008, 02:51:51 PM
Well, here goes for my first experience of the Gothic. If I don't get interrupted, I'll be back for comments in a couple of hours. ;)

Travel safely!  $:)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Dundonnell on March 14, 2008, 09:18:43 PM
Very interesting. Why don't you let Rob Barnett know this? He'll probably add it on to his Music Web review.

Have done and he will!

Thanks, for that Jeffrey.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on March 15, 2008, 09:37:38 AM
Have done and he will!

Thanks, for that Jeffrey.

It's there already!

Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 15, 2008, 09:41:45 AM
It's there already!

I saw it, too! Am now reading a very enthusiastic review of Brian's Violin Concerto (and listening to it at the same time)...

http://www.musicweb.uk.net/classrev/2005/July05/Brian_Violin_concerto_8557775.htm
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on July 05, 2008, 02:06:29 AM
Have been listening again to the new Lyrita CD of Symphony 6 and 16: one of the best of the new Lyritas I think (along with Rootham Symphony, Cyril Scott Piano Concerto 1, Moeran Symphony with Boult, Bax No 5 Leppard, Hadley's 'Trees So High', Handley).

Any other admirers of these (Rootham for example?)

My favourite moment in Brian's 16th Symphony is the funereal march which begins approx 8 and a half minutes into the work. A great and entirely characteristic moment...wonderful.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on July 05, 2008, 02:31:05 AM
Moeran - terrific.

Bax 5 - excellent.

Hadley - I have 'The Trees So High' still on an LP I bought in London in the 'eighties. Christopher Palmer mentioned Hadley (and another composer, Orr) in his Delius book Frederick Delius, Portrait of a Cosmopolitan, so that was recommendation enough. I think I'll download it from eMusic when my subscription is renewed in a few days' time and see what I make of it now.

Rootham - is on my wishlist.

Brian - I couldn't possibly comment.  ;)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on July 05, 2008, 02:32:32 AM
My favourite moment in Brian's 16th Symphony is the funereal march which begins approx 8 and a half minutes into the work. A great and entirely characteristic moment...wonderful.

Yes, it is. An autumnal procession, very poignant.

I must add - my favourite part of the symphony is the coda. For sheer power I don't know many things that surpass it. Its sense of triumph is overwhelming.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on July 05, 2008, 03:29:18 AM
Yes, it is. An autumnal procession, very poignant.

I must add - my favourite part of the symphony is the coda. For sheer power I don't know many things that surpass it. Its sense of triumph is overwhelming.

I also listened to the Arnold Cooke Third Symphony. The end of the slow movement is especially moving. I'd forgotten what a good work that is. I forgot to mention Arthur Benjamin's fine symphony; another great Lyrita discovery.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Dundonnell on July 05, 2008, 03:40:03 AM
I also listened to the Arnold Cooke Third Symphony. The end of the slow movement is especially moving. I'd forgotten what a good work that is. I forgot to mention Arthur Benjamin's fine symphony; another great Lyrita discovery.

Arnold Cooke is a composer who deserves much greater exposure(a la Alwyn or Arnell-not that his music sounds like theirs). I can't help feeling that he was a more natural symphonist-and a more interesting one-than Lennox Berkeley, for example. Chandos did give us a strange truncated Berkeley cycle, coupled with music by his son, Michael, which must have seemed a good idea on paper but did not work terribly well in practice, in my opinion. Far better to have coupled Lennox's symphonies with other examples of his own music. As you know, HB admired Cooke's music and thought him one of the most promising of the British symphonic composers. HB had good taste. We should be given the chance to evaluate the rest of Cooke's orchestral works.

I agree about Arthur Benjamin's Symphony No.1(there wasn't a second). I know it through both the Lyrita version and Christopher Lynden-Gee on Marco Polo.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on July 05, 2008, 09:46:27 AM
Arnold Cooke is a composer who deserves much greater exposure(a la Alwyn or Arnell-not that his music sounds like theirs). I can't help feeling that he was a more natural symphonist-and a more interesting one-than Lennox Berkeley, for example. Chandos did give us a strange truncated Berkeley cycle, coupled with music by his son, Michael, which must have seemed a good idea on paper but did not work terribly well in practice, in my opinion. Far better to have coupled Lennox's symphonies with other examples of his own music. As you know, HB admired Cooke's music and thought him one of the most promising of the British symphonic composers. HB had good taste. We should be given the chance to evaluate the rest of Cooke's orchestral works.

I agree about Arthur Benjamin's Symphony No.1(there wasn't a second). I know it through both the Lyrita version and Christopher Lynden-Gee on Marco Polo.

Yes, the Chandos Berkeley pere/fils series was a misfire (rather like Colin Matthews adding a completely inappropriate "Pluto" to Holst's The Planets just before Pluto was downgraded as a planet anyway.)  I wish that Lyrita had coupled Berkeley's (Lennox that is) 1st Symphony and Concerto for Two Pianos on CD (as they had done on LP) as these are easily (in my view) his best works (+Serenade for Strings). I feel that I have wasted quite a lot of money on collecting Michael Berkeley's works which I did not enjoy at all. I may yet, however, get "Or Shall We Die" on EMI, which despite a kitsch ending where the whole thing lapses into bathos, has moments of interest. The Benjamin Symphony is great.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Dundonnell on July 05, 2008, 10:09:29 AM
Six CDs devoted exclusively to Lennox Berkeley would have given Chandos the opportunity to record and for us to hear works like his
Cello Concerto
Dialogues for Cello and Chamber orchestra(both of which I hve heard courtesy of Guido on this forum)
Flute Concerto
Concerto for Piano and Double String Orchestra
Suite "A Winter's Tale"
not to mention choral/vocal works like the Ronsard Sonnets or the Oratorio "Jonah".

Dear, dear...always greedy for more :)

There was one Michael Berkeley piece I quite liked. I think that it might have been the Gregorian Variations but I am not sure now.


Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on July 05, 2008, 09:43:34 PM
Six CDs devoted exclusively to Lennox Berkeley would have given Chandos the opportunity to record and for us to hear works like his
Cello Concerto
Dialogues for Cello and Chamber orchestra(both of which I hve heard courtesy of Guido on this forum)
Flute Concerto
Concerto for Piano and Double String Orchestra
Suite "A Winter's Tale"
not to mention choral/vocal works like the Ronsard Sonnets or the Oratorio "Jonah".

Dear, dear...always greedy for more :)

There was one Michael Berkeley piece I quite liked. I think that it might have been the Gregorian Variations but I am not sure now.




Many years ago there was a festival of British music at the Festival Hall in London. I went up to Lennox Berkeley after a concert which featured some of his music to get his autograph. He couldn't have been more pleasant; chatting to me whilst signing the programme.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Lilas Pastia on July 19, 2008, 04:47:44 PM
What downloads are out there ? I want to make sure I'm not missing anything... 
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Lethevich on July 19, 2008, 08:29:18 PM
What downloads are out there ? I want to make sure I'm not missing anything... 

Jezetha's epic Mediafire account index is here (http://www.mediafire.com/?sharekey=191b3b8d4da3c14f8c9e7c56ba37815ff04eac5398a24e6c).

Edit: I am getting Vietnam-style flashbacks of how long it took to rename/retag all these...
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on July 19, 2008, 11:37:30 PM
Jezetha's epic Mediafire account index is here (http://www.mediafire.com/?sharekey=191b3b8d4da3c14f8c9e7c56ba37815ff04eac5398a24e6c).

Edit: I am getting Vietnam-style flashbacks of how long it took to rename/retag all these...

Suffering for art isn't an uncommon experience...  :'(

Sorry I put all necessary information under the heading File Info in the Mediafire map and not in the files themselves... Argh! Now I am getting 'Vietnam-style flashbacks' myself, thinking of all those descriptions I had to enter...  ;)

What downloads are out there ? I want to make sure I'm not missing anything... 

André, I suggest you download Elegy and symphonies 8, 9, 12, 19, 24, 27, 28 and 30. If you can cope with those, you are ready for anything... Take your time, but do try HB. The Gothic isn't all there is to Brian.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Renfield on July 20, 2008, 04:09:56 AM
The Gothic isn't all there is to Brian.

"But sir, I liked the Gothic!" :-[ ;)

Incidentally, your joint flashbacks led to a "Vietnam-style" one of my own, over the ripping of the EMI (orchestral) complete Karajan box set. I haven't even attempted the opera & vocal one, for that exact reason. :P (Although I've ripped around 520GB of music already, I suppose...)


And let me end this post on an on-topic note in saying that I really was delighted by the Gothic, and even gave its first movement a spontaneous second listen this morning; I'm listening to the third movement as I'm typing this.

Edit: Which one would you suggest I go for next, wise Brianic lore-keeper Johan? 8)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on July 20, 2008, 04:50:15 AM
"But sir, I liked the Gothic!" :-[ ;)

Lilas Pastia didn't much care for the Te Deum, Renfield, but he likes the First (purely orchestral) Part. I just wanted to make it clear that Brian isn't only mammoth orchestras and half the population of Bratislava singing...  ;)


Quote
And let me end this post on an on-topic note in saying that I really was delighted by the Gothic, and even gave its first movement a spontaneous second listen this morning; I'm listening to the third movement as I'm typing this.

Edit: Which one would you suggest I go for next, wise Brianic lore-keeper Johan? 8)

Well, for some short, sharp shocks - try Elegy and 12 and 17. For a longer, powerful one-movement edifice, listen to 8 (and well-recorded, too!)

See what you make of those...


Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Renfield on July 20, 2008, 05:00:05 AM
I just wanted to make it clear that Brian isn't only mammoth orchestras and half the population of Bratislava singing...  ;)

Ha. Point conceded.

I think I'll investigate the 8th.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Lilas Pastia on July 20, 2008, 05:05:12 AM
Merci, Messieurs !

I already have 8, 9, 10 and 21 (the EMI and Unicorn discs) and 17 (the recent dowlnoad, which I haven't heard yet). I wasn't sure what else could be obtained. I'll embark on a Havergalothon in the coming weeks. :D
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on July 20, 2008, 05:11:11 AM
Merci, Messieurs !

I already have 8, 9, 10 and 21 (the EMI and Unicorn discs) and 17 (the recent dowlnoad, which I haven't heard yet). I wasn't sure what else could be obtained. I'll embark on a Havergalothon in the coming weeks. :D

Havergalothon - that's an Olympic sport I have excelled at since I was 17.

Meet you in Beijing!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Lilas Pastia on July 20, 2008, 05:17:53 AM
Caramba ! Just had a look at Johan's files  :o
 
I'll make this a long term project and follow his advice: I suggest you download Elegy and symphonies 8, 9, 12, 19, 24, 27, 28 and 30.

So much Brian, so little time...
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on July 20, 2008, 05:23:48 AM
Caramba ! Just had a look at Johan's files  :o
 
I'll make this a long term project and follow his advice: I suggest you download Elegy and symphonies 8, 9, 12, 19, 24, 27, 28 and 30.

So much Brian, so little time...


What I sincerely hope, André, is that you'll discover what makes Brian such an interesting and worthwhile composer. Once you get into his style, there is no turning back. I know, of course, which pieces are the strongest (or I think I know, with often only one performance to base my judgement on). But even in his lesser things, there is always something that you won't hear anywhere else. But that's love for you, perhaps. Brian is, quite simply, nearest to my heart.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Lilas Pastia on July 20, 2008, 05:33:58 AM
Thanks, Johan. Listening to the Gothic was a daunting enterprise, not so much because of its size but the sheer diversity and downright weirdness of the work. Including the decidedly strange decision to end it all quietly. Talk about non-conformism! But I certainly discovered fascinating things and might acquire the Naxos discs for the sake of hearing it in 'normal' studio sound.

As I recall it, I enjoyed the symphonies I have (8 and 9 in particular), but it's been too long since I last listened to them. So, given the right advocacy (yours and the artists who recorded it) I will probably get to a better level of understanding. Mind you, before Maciek so zealously put forth all kind of polish music on these pages I had no idea who else there was other than Szymanowski, Lutoslawski and Penderecki. I now have about 75 discs worth of material and immensely enjoy and respect that corner of the classical repertoire.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Dundonnell on July 21, 2008, 05:09:50 AM
Hm, it's very quiet in the Composer Discussion Forum at the moment. Members away on holiday? In exotic places like Austria or Crete, I wonder :)

Anyway, as a long-time lover(oh no-that sounds like another popular song title ;D) of Brian's music, I had better join this discussion :)

In the final two chapters of Volume III of "The Symphonies of Havergal Brian" the author, Malcolm MacDonald, attempted to summarise the views he had at the time(1983) of each symphony and where each stood in relation to its neighbours. He produced a schematic diagram or genealogical tree of the symphonies(albeit with definite caveats) and a tentative and provisional ranking order.

While he would no doubt concede that his views have shifted over time through further study of the works Malcolm clearly felt then that after three volumes which dealt with each symphony in turn and several further chapters dealing with the wider musical issues relating to Brian's symphonism it would be helpful to the reader whose familiarity with the music was a very great deal less than his that a Recapitulation was much in order.

Setting 'The Gothic' to one side as 'unrankable', he put Symphonies 3, 4, 7, 16 and 30 in the top rank-regarding these five as equal to the two Elgar symphonies and the best by Vaughan Williams and of a stature to place Brian in the same league as Mahler and Sibelius as a symphonist. From these five he did not express a favourite but No.4 'Das Siegeslied' comes in for especially high praise.

Just below these five (but still regarded as 'masterpieces') come Nos. 8, 10, 17, 20 and 22.

Next-but perhaps creeping into the higher category- Nos. 19, 24 and 28.

At the lower end-as the least highly regarded- are Nos. 14 and 26. ("..vision is at a low ebb...technique sometimes a matter of routine")

Slightly above these two come Nos. 9, 13, 21 and 23.

The remainder occupy the middle ground.

Malcolm emphasised that these were personal selections and that other listeners would have different preferences. I certainly do!
Two of the lower rated symphonies-Nos. 9 and 14-may not be great symphonies but i actually enjoy both immensely and used to argue the point with Malcolm MacDonald when we were much younger!

Anyone with the slightest interest in Brian really should try to get hold of Malcolm MacDonals' books. Wonderfully well written they make for a superlative introduction to the music and listening to the symphonies while following Malcolm's descriptions helps enormously towards an understanding of what Brian is doing!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Hector on July 21, 2008, 05:53:19 AM
No 6 or 16?

The Lyrita reissue should change all that!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: lukeottevanger on July 21, 2008, 06:09:12 AM
MacDonald's Brian books, like everything he writes, are a storehouse of great writing - he has a way of finding a perfect phrase, and does a such a superb job of summing up Brian's symphonic output that reading him I could almost 'hear' music which (before I had all the symphonies) I had never heard in the flesh. The more general chapters -  the first couple in volume one and the bulk of volume three - are just superb; one comes away feeling one really knows Brian and his mind.

Personally, I'd put no 8 into the top rank too - in some respects it's Brian's most Brianic symphony, concise, brief and taking his juxtaposition technique to an extreme position, balancing the vulnerably lyrical with the dangerously martial, each pushing the other to evermore extraordinary lengths; but it's also an utterly new reimagining of symphonic form from first principles, and it works to a startling degree. It also contains some of Brian's most attractive melodic and harmonic material.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on July 21, 2008, 06:10:50 AM
Anyone with the slightest interest in Brian really should try to get hold of Malcolm MacDonals' books. Wonderfully well written they make for a superlative introduction to the music and listening to the symphonies while following Malcolm's descriptions helps enormously towards an understanding of what Brian is doing!

Yes, those books are seminal and without them I probably wouldn't have discovered Brian as early as I did (Amsterdam, 1977).

Re ranking the symphonies - I really rate 13 and 14 higher than MacDonald does. For me they are great successors to 8-12. Symphony No. 15 is celebration, 16 perhaps at the other end of 8 in its indubitable triumph, and 17 is the wild and lyrical epilogue to that whole phase of Brian's symphonic career.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on July 21, 2008, 06:16:00 AM
Personally, I'd put no 8 into the top rank too - in some respects it's Brian's most Brianic symphony, concise, brief and taking his juxtaposition technique to an extreme position, balancing the vulnerably lyrical with the dangerously martial, each pushing the other to evermore extraordinary lengths; but it's also an utterly new reimagining of symphonic form from first principles, and it works to a startling degree. It also contains some of Brian's most attractive melodic and harmonic material.

MacDonald calls the 8th the 'quintessential' Brian symphony (iirc) and it probably is, in its unresolved tension of harsh against soft. 'Thoughts against thoughts in groans grind',  to quote Gerard Manley Hopkins (I have always connected his 'sprung rhythm' to Brian's sinewy, double-dotted bass lines! Brian is so English in this.)

       ‘Some find me a sword; some
             The flange and the rail; flame,
          Fang, or flood’ goes Death on drum,
              And storms bugle his fame.
    But wé dream we are rooted in earth―Dust!
    Flesh falls within sight of us, we, though our flower the same,
          Wave with the meadow, forget that there must
The sour scythe cringe, and the blear share come.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: lukeottevanger on July 21, 2008, 06:17:11 AM
Hopkins was a composer too, of course...this may or may not be relevant!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Dundonnell on July 21, 2008, 06:18:55 AM
Hopkins was a composer too, of course...this may or may not be relevant!

Was he? Rushes off to Wikipedia.......
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on July 21, 2008, 06:19:49 AM
Hopkins was a composer too, of course...this may or may not be relevant!

Yes, and it seems that Hopkins was thinking of chromaticism in 1865, when Tristan was first revealed to the world... (Read it in the classic Hopkins study by Gardner.)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Dundonnell on July 21, 2008, 06:37:25 AM
Cringes in abject shame :(

I read some Gerard Manley Hopkins at school-"The Wreck of the Deutschland" as I recall-but since then.......

Returning hurriedly to Havergal Brian before my poetic philistinism is exposed further..

I would really like to hear Symphonies Nos. 2 and 3 in modern recordings which could enable a more considered judgment on such complex scores.

I also wish we could hear Brian's Concerto for Orchestra which sounds highly impressive in Malcolm MacDonald's description.

Yes, I share the admiration expressed for Symphony No.8 and indeed for all the symphonies stretching through from No.6 to No.17(my favourite Brian symphonies!).

I was thinking the other day whilst driving from my home to Edinburgh what I would do if somehow or other I could come into possession of a fortune :) Buy a yacht-no! Buy a castle-probably not. A range of other possibilities drifted through my mind. Then it came to me-of course, finance the recording of a complete set of Brian symphonies!! Top-flight orchestra of course(London Symphony, London Philharmonic) and a conductor...? Ah, but who would want to do it, to learn all these works and commit to such a cycle?

Ah..fantasies...! :) :)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on July 21, 2008, 06:48:12 AM
I was thinking the other day whilst driving from my home to Edinburgh what I would do if somehow or other I could come into possession of a fortune :) Buy a yacht-no! Buy a castle-probably not. A range of other possibilities drifted through my mind. Then it came to me-of course, finance the recording of a complete set of Brian symphonies!! Top-flight orchestra of course(London Symphony, London Philharmonic) and a conductor...? Ah, but who would want to do it, to learn all these works and commit to such a cycle?

Ah..fantasies...! :) :)

Allow me to join in on this dreary summer's day - it's always been my firm intention that if I become a famous writer (!), I'll do everything in my power to promote Brian in the Netherlands. It's my dream to hear him played by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra...
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Dundonnell on July 21, 2008, 07:01:20 AM
Allow me to join in on this dreary summer's day - it's always been my firm intention that if I become a famous writer (!), I'll do everything in my power to promote Brian in the Netherlands. It's my dream to hear him played by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra...

Jansons? Or do you have some other conductor in mind?

That's part of the problem you see! I spoke about this to another friend from school, another Macdonald(Hugh this time) who was the boss of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. He planned programmes and hired conductors. Hugh told me that it was not as simple as I fondly imagined to get the two in conjunction. You could decide to programme-let us say, for the sake of argument, a symphony by Panufnik and then find that you simply could not get anyone to conduct it. Certain conductors would be unavailable at the right time, others would claim that they didn't like/understand the music. You might get someone(like Vernon Handley) who would then fall ill and have to be replaced at short notice by another conductor who turned out to be no more than adequate.

Oh...reality..... :( ;)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on July 21, 2008, 07:25:52 AM
Jansons? Or do you have some other conductor in mind?

He'll do.

Quote
Oh...reality..... :( ;)

I know. That's why we have dreams!  ;)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Renfield on July 21, 2008, 08:12:06 AM
Well, I've already promised I'd finance a good friend's MMO (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MMORPG) project if my writing works out, the books sell, and I become filthy rich. But I suppose if my financial success is such that I can buy a small country, I could certainly do the Brian symphonies on the side. ;) :P

Firmly tongue-in-cheek, of course. Though I really would give the money if I could spare it, even from my impressions of the Gothic alone.

Edit: Because I want to hear them well-performed, if nothing else!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on July 21, 2008, 08:28:14 AM
Because I want to hear them well-performed, if nothing else!

And so say all of us!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: lukeottevanger on July 21, 2008, 10:41:37 AM
Yes, and it seems that Hopkins was thinking of chromaticism in 1865, when Tristan was first revealed to the world... (Read it in the classic Hopkins study by Gardner.)

More than that - I remember someone a few years ago opening a thread about 'the earliest quarter tone' with a scanned manuscript of a Hopkins song which contained just such a thing - decades before Haba, Bartok, Berg, Enescu etc. etc first experimented with them!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on July 21, 2008, 10:46:34 AM
More than that - I remember someone a few years ago opening a thread about 'the earliest quarter tone' with a scanned manuscript of a Hopkins song which contained just such a thing - decades before Haba, Bartok, Berg, Enescu etc. etc first experimented with them!

Fascinating and wholly characteristic of his utter independence of mind.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on August 18, 2008, 05:39:43 AM
News from the Brian front, from the latest issue of the Havergal Brian Newsletter... (click to enlarge)

Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on August 18, 2008, 06:15:11 AM
Interesting news!

Have you ever seen the Gothic live Johan?

I was lucky to see Ole Schmidt conduct in London decades ago; a great experience.

We need a professional recording of Symphony 10; one of his greatest scores.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on August 18, 2008, 07:32:47 AM
Interesting news!

Have you ever seen the Gothic live Johan?

I was lucky to see Ole Schmidt conduct in London decades ago; a great experience.

We need a professional recording of Symphony 10; one of his greatest scores.

Lucky you! No, 'The Gothic' is still something I have to experience. I don't think I'll go all the way to Australia, though, to listen to it...
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: eyeresist on August 18, 2008, 05:04:44 PM

It's particularly interesting that they'll be filming it, giving many outside Queensland the chance to "see" their first performance.
 
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on August 19, 2008, 11:39:01 PM
The lady herself...
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: tjguitar on October 25, 2008, 10:39:37 AM
I don't even know where to begin with Brian. So many discs to choose from!

Oye...
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on October 25, 2008, 11:13:51 AM
I don't even know where to begin with Brian. So many discs to choose from!

Oye...

For starters:

http://www.mediafire.com/file/0jf2yvnm2tj/Brian 8.mp3

(Symphony No. 8 )

and

http://www.mediafire.com/file/wijgqyozmjm/Brian Symphony No. 6 LPO Myer Fredman.mp3

Good luck! No. 8 is tougher than No. 6, btw...
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: tjguitar on October 25, 2008, 12:31:28 PM
Many thanks. I have downloaded the 6th.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Dundonnell on October 25, 2008, 12:50:55 PM
For starters:

http://www.mediafire.com/file/0jf2yvnm2tj/Brian 8.mp3

(Symphony No. 8 )

and

http://www.mediafire.com/file/wijgqyozmjm/Brian Symphony No. 6 LPO Myer Fredman.mp3

Good luck! No. 8 is tougher than No. 6, btw...

Do you think so, Johan? I am slightly puzzled by that assessment. I always found the 8th and 9th to be amongst HB's most accessible symphonies :)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Lilas Pastia on October 25, 2008, 12:58:49 PM
I listened to these two last week (8 and 9) and am still not sure if I find them "approachable". But at least the recordings certainly make a good case for the music (it's powerful and arresting if anything else).

Brian deserves some label/conductor championship. In this era of completism, here's a case where an enterprising label would have a field day. Add savvy marketing and a reasonable price, and I'd jump for the boxed set ! :D
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on October 25, 2008, 01:02:41 PM
Do you think so, Johan? I am slightly puzzled by that assessment. I always found the 8th and 9th to be amongst HB's most accessible symphonies :)

Don't underestimate the strangeness of Brian's idiom to the uninitiated, Colin. You and I may not have had many difficulties because of a natural affinity, but I don't know what tjguitar is used to. So No. 6 seems an excellent introduction, though it doesn't prepare you for the sterner and grittier glories of HB's more characteristic works (like the 8th and 12th and 16th). I remember I took to the the Eighth immediately, but had to struggle a bit with the Ninth (first movement). Though that is so long ago, most if not all of Brian's doesn't pose any problem to me anymore...

I listened to these two last week (8 and 9) and am still not sure if I find them "approachable". But at least the recordings certainly make a good case for the music (it's powerful and arresting if anything else).

Exactly.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Dundonnell on October 25, 2008, 01:09:57 PM
I listened to these two last week (8 and 9) and am still not sure if I find them "approachable". But at least the recordings certainly make a good case for the music (it's powerful and arresting if anything else).

Brian deserves some label/conductor championship. In this era of completism, here's a case where an enterprising label would have a field day. Add savvy marketing and a reasonable price, and I'd jump for the boxed set ! :D

Oh dear..I could write so much about this-although Johan would do a much better job!

Marco Polo committed itself to recording a complete cycle albeit with a wide range and variety of orchestras and conductors. A number of cds were released but sales were variable. To be honest, the recording of the Gothic in Bratislava cost an aweful lot of money! Nor did Marco Polo market the series or individual cds as well as they could. (These were in the days when the Naxos empire issued full-price Marco Polo and cheap Naxos cds). Funding was obtained from the Rex Foundation of San Francisco(formed by members of the Grateful Dead) for some of the cd issues but I am not sure whether or not that dried up. Anyway, the series ground to a halt some years ago and there seems no likeliehood of more being recorded :( :(

HB symphonies are extremely difficult to play (preferably properly ;D) and for orchestras and conductors to learn. They require a lot of rehearsal time. In these days of global recession....... :(

The irony of course is that if HB had written fewer symphonies it would be more economical for a company to invest the cash!!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Mark G. Simon on October 25, 2008, 01:10:38 PM
Also the apparently conventional harmonic language and thematic gestures make one think one is getting something much more straightforward than is actually the case. I always get this uncomfortable feeling about five minutes into a Brian symphony that "Hey, where the heck am I, I'm lost!"
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Dundonnell on October 25, 2008, 01:11:47 PM
Don't underestimate the strangeness of Brian's idiom to the uninitiated, Colin. You and I may not have had many difficulties because of a natural affinity, but I don't know what tjguitar is used to. So No. 6 seems an excellent introduction, though it doesn't prepare you for the sterner and grittier glories of HB's more characteristic works (like the 8th and 12th and 16th). I remember I took to the the Eighth immediately, but had to struggle a bit with the Ninth (first movement). Though that is so long ago, most if not all of Brian's doesn't pose any problem to me anymore...

Exactly.

I am duly reproved :-[

You are-of course-quite correct :) One's enthusiasm sometimes runs away with one! "If I think that this is a masterpiece everybody else must do so as well!"
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on October 25, 2008, 01:16:07 PM
Oh dear..I could write so much about this-although Johan would do a much better job!

Not in this case. A very pithy exposition.

Also the apparently conventional harmonic language and thematic gestures make one think one is getting something much more straightforward than is actually the case. I always get this uncomfortable feeling about five minutes into a Brian symphony that "Hey, where the heck am I, I'm lost!"

Listening to Brian is an adventure. It is important to feel, though, you are heading somewhere. Those who are attuned to Brian's rather quirky 'logic' don't experience that many difficulties and enjoy the ride. Others feel lost and quit altogether. I can't blame them. There isn't a middle way with Brian - you either love him or leave him.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Christo on October 25, 2008, 01:18:40 PM
"Hey, where the heck am I, I'm lost!"

A certain JD, halfway Harwich and Hook of Holland, Force 8, clock moving backwards from 3 to 2, stark darkness, headphones playing Brian's 32nd, drone of the disco aboard... ??
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on October 25, 2008, 01:21:16 PM
A certain JD, halfway Harwich and Hook of Holland, Force 8, clock moving backwards from 3 to 2, stark darkness, headphones playing Brian's 32nd, drone of the disco aboard... ??

Small annotation to this cryptic, Joycean passage - fellow member Vandermolen (JD) is on his way to Holland...
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: tjguitar on October 25, 2008, 01:33:09 PM
I love those trumpets one minute into the track in the 6th symphony link that Jezetha posted. :)

Some nice use of mallet percussion in there too.

Hmmmmm. Interesting.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Est.1965 on October 27, 2008, 06:08:58 AM
Interesting talk of Brians 'idiom'.  It's an idiom I still can't get past.  Brian is a composer who both baffles and reveals, although what he reveals is often baffling itself!  But the baffling-ness of Brian demands to be heard again and again - his music is that of a Zen-like big time symphonic composer.  We might not know where he's taking us even if we get lost on the way, but when we get to the end of his work we know that every note has been bang in the right place and the entire symphony has resonated a deeper understanding which we ourselves can only wish for.
Brian is in my top ten symphonists of all time.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on October 27, 2008, 06:22:00 AM
Interesting talk of Brians 'idiom'.  It's an idiom I still can't get past.  Brian is a composer who both baffles and reveals, although what he reveals is often baffling itself!  But the baffling-ness of Brian demands to be heard again and again - his music is that of a Zen-like big time symphonic composer.  We might not know where he's taking us even if we get lost on the way, but when we get to the end of his work we know that every note has been bang in the right place and the entire symphony has resonated a deeper understanding which we ourselves can only wish for.
Brian is in my top ten symphonists of all time.

Good post, John! I always get the feeling with Brian he's lowering his bucket into some deep level of his psyche. There is a flow of ideas and emotions there that you seem to hear 'in the raw', as it were. This is what is Expressionist about Brian. The music erupts, flies off tangents, breaks through barriers, a sort of musical stream-of-consciousness, and what keeps the whole thing together is the mystery of the powerful personality behind it all. Only from Symphony No. 18 onwards is Brian trying to order his material in a more traditional (classical) way. But even there his originality and waywardness are in evidence.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on October 27, 2008, 06:29:09 AM
In an hour's time I'll meet up with fellow member Vandermolen, in Leiden. So - I'm off!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Guido on October 27, 2008, 06:38:07 AM
I like the emphatic full stop in this thread title.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Dundonnell on October 27, 2008, 06:43:15 AM
In an hour's time I'll meet up with fellow member Vandermolen, in Leiden. So - I'm off!

Be sure to give him my regards...if you get this message, of course! :)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: springrite on October 27, 2008, 07:08:30 AM
Seems like we have enough people here for a mini Brian Society Chapter, and the first board meeting is about to take place...

Listening to Brian Violin Concerto in the meantime...
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Tapio Dimitriyevich Shostakovich on October 27, 2008, 08:07:55 AM
Jezetha, I wanted to download #8 of you, but hey: Mediafire is terribly slow, 9 kb/s here in old Europe, (axis of the good).
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on October 27, 2008, 03:13:27 PM
Be sure to give him my regards...if you get this message, of course! :)

Hi, Colin! Christo read your post and has done what you wanted... Well, I have just returned from Leiden and a wonderful afternoon and evening was had by all. Christo will undoubtedly post some pictures of our historic meeting, which also featured Jeffrey's lovely wife and daughter.

Jezetha, I wanted to download #8 of you, but hey: Mediafire is terribly slow, 9 kb/s here in old Europe, (axis of the good).

Wurstwasser, would it help you if I uploaded it to Rapidshare? What speed is your broadband connection?
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Dundonnell on October 27, 2008, 03:57:26 PM
Hi, Colin! Christo read your post and has done what you wanted... Well, I have just returned from Leiden and a wonderful afternoon and evening was had by all. Christo will undoubtedly post some pictures of our historic meeting, which also featured Jeffrey's lovely wife and daughter.

Wurstwasser, would it help you if I uploaded it to Rapidshare? What speed is your broadband connection?

Excellent news! Glad it went so well :) :) (I am jealous :))
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on October 27, 2008, 04:03:48 PM
Excellent news! Glad it went so well :) :) (I am jealous :))

Your time will come, Colin, your time will come.  :)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on October 27, 2008, 04:04:47 PM
Seems like we have enough people here for a mini Brian Society Chapter, and the first board meeting is about to take place...

Listening to Brian Violin Concerto in the meantime...

One Brian's most beautiful works, I think...
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Est.1965 on October 27, 2008, 06:48:52 PM
Excellent news! Glad it went so well :) :) (I am jealous :))

Yes Colin.  I too would like to meet up with some members of this board.  Perhaps if we're both here next Spring we can meet up in Perth and plan an assault on somewhere like Zeelandic Flanders, and head North for some meetings and general Classical malarkey.
Meantime guys, I am moving home, and will not be online for a wee while as it is a rather complicated than normal move...will explain sometime!  It should have taken place just before Summer but didn't, but now it is...Mind you, while I'm waiting for new connections to be sorted out (and indeed the new flat), I might get a Vodafone hub for my laptop so I can still keep yapping.  Should be back before Xmas for sure though.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Dundonnell on October 27, 2008, 06:54:21 PM
Yes Colin.  I too would like to meet up with some members of this board.  Perhaps if we're both here next Spring we can meet up in Perth and plan an assault on somewhere like Zeelandic Flanders, and head North for some meetings and general Classical malarkey.
Meantime guys, I am moving home, and will not be online for a wee while as it is a rather complicated than normal move...will explain sometime!  It should have taken place just before Summer but didn't, but now it is...Mind you, while I'm waiting for new connections to be sorted out (and indeed the new flat), I might get a Vodafone hub for my laptop so I can still keep yapping.  Should be back before Xmas for sure though.

Absolutely! We are not that far apart after all ;D

I hope the move goes smoothly and without too much trauma. Haste ye back...as the road signs say as one leaves Scotland :)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Tapio Dimitriyevich Shostakovich on October 27, 2008, 10:45:51 PM
Wurstwasser, would it help you if I uploaded it to Rapidshare? What speed is your broadband connection?
Yes, RS would help. I'm on a 1.7mByte/s line and have an RS account.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on October 27, 2008, 10:47:04 PM
Yes, RS would help. I'm on a 1.7mByte/s line and have an RS account.

Excellent. And, btw, I am on a 1.7mByte/s line, too, and have an RS account!

Watch this space.

http://rapidshare.com/files/158271475/Brian_8.mp3
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: donaldopato on October 28, 2008, 05:10:19 AM
Ah yes, Havergal Brian...allow a newbie a bit of time to possibly rehash what has likely discussed before.

As a conductor friend of mine stated, "Brian is an acquired taste". True, but one (like good scotch) that I am glad I acquired. Criticized for being "quirky" and writing "clunky" music, it is those two traits that give his music such individuality; a stand out in an increasingly homogeneous musical world. A great orchestral colorist, his orchestration may challenge an orchestra's balance, but there is no dispute for me at least, that when it works, it is amazingly effective. The end of the 6th, the concertante piano in the 3rd just to name a couple of great Brian moments. I think the end of the neglected 10th is one of the most imaginative in a modern work, letting the percussion have the last word is brilliant.

I could go on.. suffice to say, I hope to join in the Brian discussion frequently.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on October 28, 2008, 05:15:13 AM
Great to hear from you, Donaldopato!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Dundonnell on October 28, 2008, 07:12:00 AM
Ah yes, Havergal Brian...allow a newbie a bit of time to possibly rehash what has likely discussed before.

As a conductor friend of mine stated, "Brian is an acquired taste". True, but one (like good scotch) that I am glad I acquired. Criticized for being "quirky" and writing "clunky" music, it is those two traits that give his music such individuality; a stand out in an increasingly homogeneous musical world. A great orchestral colorist, his orchestration may challenge an orchestra's balance, but there is no dispute for me at least, that when it works, it is amazingly effective. The end of the 6th, the concertante piano in the 3rd just to name a couple of great Brian moments. I think the end of the neglected 10th is one of the most imaginative in a modern work, letting the percussion have the last word is brilliant.

I could go on.. suffice to say, I hope to join in the Brian discussion frequently.

I have already welcomed you in another thread  to the this site but I do so again with even greater enthusiasm as a fellow HB admirer :) :)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Lilas Pastia on November 02, 2008, 07:49:16 PM
Another spin to the EMI disc of 8 and 9. I definitely root for 8, which I recognized at once. Previous encounters did let the music sink in, somewhat to my surprise. It's as if I had known it for years (which is the actually the case, but you know what I mean :D. I also 'got' the 9th, but it's rather more fragmented, less continuous in its discourse. Beautiful recording and playing. I wish there would be more of that caliber.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Dundonnell on November 03, 2008, 06:13:23 AM
Another spin to the EMI disc of 8 and 9. I definitely root for 8, which I recognized at once. Previous encounters did let the music sink in, somewhat to my surprise. It's as if I had known it for years (which is the actually the case, but you know what I mean :D. I also 'got' the 9th, but it's rather more fragmented, less continuous in its discourse. Beautiful recording and playing. I wish there would be more of that caliber.

Sir Charles Groves was a very fine conductor(and a very nice man) who did a tremendous amount of really excellent work in the concert hall, opera house and recording studio! During his terms as principal conductor of the(now) BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra he conducted an enormous number of British compositions, many of them by unfashionable composers. Fortunately he left a considerable recorded legacy of which the Brian disc is but one example...but what fine performances indeed. Pity he didn't get to do more Brian :(

Now....off to listen for the first time to Arnell's 1st and 6th symphonies!  Excited ;D ;D
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on November 03, 2008, 06:27:54 AM
Sir Charles Groves was a very fine conductor(and a very nice man) who did a tremendous amount of really excellent work in the concert hall, opera house and recording studio! During his terms as principal conductor of the(now) BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra he conducted an enormous number of British compositions, many of them by unfashionable composers. Fortunately he left a considerable recorded legacy of which the Brian disc is but one example...but what fine performances indeed. Pity he didn't get to do more Brian :(

Now....off to listen for the first time to Arnell's 1st and 6th symphonies!  Excited ;D ;D

Well, I know (iirc) he did conduct Part One of "The Gothic" during the Brian Centenary Festival in 1976. And Sir Charles Groves also did the Ninth then (again iirc). I remember reading a review in an early Havergal Brian Society Newsletter, where it was maintained that this is the reason his recorded performance of the Ninth is better than that of the Eighth. The Eighth was rehearsed in the studio only a few times and then recorded.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: springrite on November 10, 2008, 04:41:20 AM
I had the Gothic with me on my lecture trip and listened to it twice while on the train. I had much better feel about it than I did previously. In fact, the part one was magnificent this time around (which somehow eluded me the previous 4 or 5 times). The Part Two is also better than what I remembered, but still failed to hold my attention, nothing like part one.

I gave part one a third listening as the train approached Beijing. Good stuff!  Not sure when I will give enough time for this piece (I mean as a whole including part two) again. If I can, I will do so within a week or two or it will probably be put into the bottom of the pile again.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on November 10, 2008, 04:52:32 AM
I had the Gothic with me on my lecture trip and listened to it twice while on the train. I had much better feel about it than I did previously. In fact, the part one was magnificent this time around (which somehow eluded me the previous 4 or 5 times). The Part Two is also better than what I remembered, but still failed to hold my attention, nothing like part one.

I gave part one a third listening as the train approached Beijing. Good stuff!  Not sure when I will give enough time for this piece (I mean as a whole including part two) again. If I can, I will do so within a week or two or it will probably be put into the bottom of the pile again.

Paul, I find the idea that Brian should sound in a Chinese train absolutely mind-blowing and moving... Glad to see you're slowly but surely getting the measure of this monster. (Btw - one of my best friends is a Sinologist, she's writing a PhD thesis about Chinese literature. In one week's time she's off to China for three months to do field work in Beijing and Shanghai.)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: springrite on November 10, 2008, 04:58:29 AM
Paul, I find the idea that Brian should sound in a Chinese train absolutely mind-blowing and moving...

It would be even more so had it been on one of those old fashioned steam engines instead of the state of the art 280km/hr bullet model.

Btw - one of my best friends is a Sinologist, she's writing a PhD thesis about Chinese literature. In one week's time she's off to China for three months to do field work in Beijing and Shanghai.

Good for her! She can call me when she's in Beijing. The number will be in PM. Is it too late to ask for a CD or two of Polish music that is NOT from the Big Two?
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on November 10, 2008, 05:13:25 AM
It would be even more so had it been on one of those old fashioned steam engines instead of the state of the art 280km/hr bullet model.

 ;D

Quote
Good for her! She can call me when she's in Beijing. The number will be in PM. Is it too late to ask for a CD or two of Polish music that is NOT from the Big Two?

You mean Karlowicz?! Others? Fire away!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: springrite on November 10, 2008, 05:36:06 AM

You mean Karlowicz?! Others? Fire away!

I know nothing about Polish music post 1950 other than Luto and Pendi! So I rely on your judgment.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on November 10, 2008, 05:40:55 AM
I know nothing about Polish music post 1950 other than Luto and Pendi! So I rely on your judgment.

Karlowicz is late Romantic, btw, and quite wonderful. You could have all of his symphonic poems, if you like. Re post 1950 Polish composers - Maciek is the absolute authority there, he could advise you best. But I do have a few works (thanks to him). I'll see what I'll do.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Dundonnell on November 10, 2008, 05:42:26 AM
I know nothing about Polish music post 1950 other than Luto and Pendi! So I rely on your judgment.

"Luto and Pendi" ::) ::)

A week ago or so it was "Arnie" Bax >:(

What IS this forum coming too?
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on November 10, 2008, 05:44:13 AM
"Luto and Pendi" ::) ::)

A week ago or so it was "Arnie" Bax >:(

What IS this forum coming too?

I think this Forie is cute.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Tapio Dimitriyevich Shostakovich on November 10, 2008, 06:35:36 AM
Eddie, the Elgar ...
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: springrite on November 10, 2008, 06:42:48 AM
Eddie, the Elgar ...

Or, as John Cleese would call him: Eddie Baby!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Dundonnell on November 10, 2008, 06:56:16 AM
Can you not sense my utter outrage radiating across the cosmos?

If anyone calls Wagner or Strauss a 'Dick' I shall do a passable imitation of Krakatoa in its death throes ;D ;D
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: The new erato on November 10, 2008, 10:38:32 AM
Can you not sense my utter outrage radiating across the cosmos?

If anyone calls Wagner or Strauss a 'Dick' I shall ido a passable imitation of Krakatoa in its death throes ;D ;D
Only Arnell is a Dick.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Dundonnell on November 10, 2008, 11:20:28 AM
Remind me of your first name ;) ;D
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: springrite on November 10, 2008, 11:21:29 AM
Only Arnell is a Dick.

For those of us who knows him well, he's Dickie.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Dundonnell on November 10, 2008, 11:23:24 AM
For those of us who knows him well, he's Dickie.

 :o >:( >:D $:)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on January 07, 2009, 03:58:51 PM
Found this on Usenet. Jeffrey Anderson from CBC and Robert Simpson (representing the BBC) interview Havergal Brian. It was recorded in 1969. (Taken from reel-to-reel tapes, hence the sound quality.)

http://www.mediafire.com/?2nmmhklof2f
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Renfield on January 07, 2009, 05:08:27 PM
Fascinating!

:)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Est.1965 on January 30, 2009, 06:23:54 PM
Found this on Usenet. Jeffrey Anderson from CBC and Robert Simpson (representing the BBC) interview Havergal Brian. It was recorded in 1969. (Taken from reel-to-reel tapes, hence the sound quality.)

http://www.mediafire.com/?2nmmhklof2f

Thank you so much for that interview, which is downloading now and I haven't even heard yet!  Had a blast of his mighty first yesterday and it hit the mark again, stunning.  Also listened again to his 5th and 12th, both of which do something to me in an irregularly happy way.

Well, I have now heard it, and what a revealing interview, especially towards the end where Brian revealed his methods of composition.  This audio snippet (40+ mins) of Brian is a real treasure, he discusses his association with Elgar, Vaughan Williams, Bax, and other luminaries of British Musical History.  He explains his compositional habits and 'influences' (really only one, Elgar, but the influence did not affect his own work.)  Havergal Brian was a completely individual composer, unaffected by what everyone else was doing.  His output was spectacular in its own right and I AM STILL ANNOYED AND TROUBLED THAT HIS WORK HAS NOT YET BEEN SIEZED UPON AND PERFORMED WORLDWIDE ON A SCALE AS LARGE AS HIS GOTHIC...
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: schweitzeralan on March 08, 2009, 01:45:17 PM
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...

Quite an involved work, massive.  A reviwer in Amazon compared it with Scriabin's "Mysterium."  Not in musical language, but in scope and cosmic, even mystic persuasions.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Dundonnell on March 08, 2009, 03:01:21 PM
Quite an involved work, massive.  A reviwer in Amazon compared it with Scriabin's "Mysterium."  Not in musical language, but in scope and cosmic, even mystic persuasions.

Except that Havergal Brian actually wrote and finished the 'Gothic'. Scriabin left only sketches for 'Mysterium'.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: schweitzeralan on March 08, 2009, 07:08:37 PM
Except that Havergal Brian actually wrote and finished the 'Gothic'. Scriabin left only sketches for 'Mysterium'.

Right.  Scriabin/Nemptin.  Some reviewers believe the most of "Mysterium"  was conceived and elaborated by Nemptin.  I can only go by what the experts write.  I personally think that "Mysterium" is a complex work and transcendental work; as is, The 1st Symphony of Havergal Brian.  Am pleased that both are available on CD's; although I did see on Amazon that the "manufacturer" may not release any further recordings, at least for now.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Mark G. Simon on March 09, 2009, 05:34:55 AM
Some reviewers believe the most of "Mysterium"  was conceived and elaborated by Nemptin. 

They are correct. Scriabin left nothing more than a bundle of sketches. Nemtin somehow turned them into 2 1/2 hours of music. Part I, "Universe", is, as you say, complex and transcendent, and the opening chord is one of the most astonishing sounds I've ever heard from an orchestra. Pts. 2-3 just rehash the same material to no good end.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Lethevich on May 13, 2009, 02:07:51 PM
I have a question regarding the Lenard performance of the first symphony. An Amazon reviewer swears blind that the Naxos reissue of the Marco Polo recording sounds a lot better (ie. remastered in some way). This seems a little unexpected, given Naxos' usual policies, but I suppose this symphony is a rather "special" case, so they may have made the effort. Can anyone confirm whether this is true?

I ask because while I prefer the Boult live recording, I feel I should own a proper copy of it - and I don't want the crap one, even if the Marco Polo version is cheaper.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Dundonnell on May 13, 2009, 04:15:41 PM
I have a question regarding the Lenard performance of the first symphony. An Amazon reviewer swears blind that the Naxos reissue of the Marco Polo recording sounds a lot better (ie. remastered in some way). This seems a little unexpected, given Naxos' usual policies, but I suppose this symphony is a rather "special" case, so they may have made the effort. Can anyone confirm whether this is true?

I ask because while I prefer the Boult live recording, I feel I should own a proper copy of it - and I don't want the crap one, even if the Marco Polo version is cheaper.

The Marco Polo version is not "crap" :) It is not perfect... but then I find it hard to imagine that any performance of the Gothic will ever approach perfection! It was an amazing achievement for these Slovak forces to put the Gothic onto disc and I think that they deserve huge plaudits for their efforts.
If we get another recorded Gothic I will be surprised!

Here is an extremely interesting and illuminating article by David J. Brown about the recording sessions in Bratislava-

http://www.havergalbrian.org/recordinggothic.htm

As Brown points out, whatever else might be said about the performance, the choral Part II is wonderfully well done

You have probably already read the Musicweb reviews-

http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2004/jun04/Brian_Gothic.htm

There is nothing in these reviews to suggest 're-mastering' but I know no more about that.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Lethevich on May 13, 2009, 04:57:17 PM
Oh, of course. Considering the difficulty it sounds quite fine - better, perhaps, than some recordings of Brian's later "easier" symphonies. Boult I only prefer on grounds of tempo and slightly improved instrumental and choral forces. The difference is not that great, though. Marco Polo's achivement is even greater given that since then, even a live performance of the thing has proven almost impossible to attempt, let alone a recording. That it doesn't look like there will be any rival recording around any time soon is further testiment to the great achivement of them finally getting it done.

'Crap' was a deliberate over-statement, it would simply have been a gnawing pain to know that I may have had an inferior version of the recording. The Amazon review was the first I had heard about any supposed remaster, and as you have also not heard of anything along these lines, I will just consider it nonsense for the time being.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on May 13, 2009, 11:30:49 PM
I have both the Marco Polo and the Naxos recordings ( ::)). I have not noticed much difference in sound quality but will search them out for a direct comparison.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: snyprrr on May 29, 2009, 11:44:42 PM
Sorry, I just bumped this to get that Mozart thread off the first page! I haven't read this thread yet. Is there a 1-31 list, with comments?
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on May 30, 2009, 12:40:49 AM
Sorry, I just bumped this to get that Mozart thread off the first page! I haven't read this thread yet. Is there a 1-31 list, with comments?

Bumping Brian is always welcome... If Brian is new to you, why not try these symphonies for starters and see what you make of them:

http://www.mediafire.com/file/0jf2yvnm2tj/Brian 8.mp3

http://www.mediafire.com/file/wijgqyozmjm/Brian Symphony No. 6 LPO Myer Fredman.mp3

http://www.mediafire.com/file/nn0axd1ichy/Brian 17 (BBC).mp3

They're all short. No. 8 is a battle between light and dark, yes and no, Brian at his most binary; No. 6 is Brian's most lyrical symphony; and No. 17 is fast, dramatic and violent.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on May 30, 2009, 12:59:18 AM
My faves are nos 1,2,3,6,7,8, 9, 10 and 16. I increasingly like No 2 which I did not make much of at first. No 8 would be my recommendation as a starting point.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on June 03, 2009, 06:25:57 AM
From the latest Havergal Brian Society Newsletter, received more than an hour ago (click to enlarge)...

Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Lethevich on June 03, 2009, 06:51:28 AM
Incredible news! I thought that Toccata were restricted to chamber music only due to their shoestring budget. Thank goodness for the dedicated fans who have obviously been nagging away behind the scenes to help this project reach a conclusion rather than fall apart halfway through (as many Brian projects seem to do)...
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Dundonnell on June 03, 2009, 07:23:16 AM
It is indeed fabulous news....although I do have one or two questions :)

First of all, the article says that the selection of music has been chosen not to conflict with the Naxos symphonic cycle, as if to suggest that this is an ongoing project. I wish!!

Secondly, I note that Toccata hope to issue the first cd by the end of this year. I very much hope that this will come to pass but Toccata's track record of keeping to planned release schedule is not good. The company recorded R.O. Morris's Symphony a long time ago now and it has still not seen the light of day.

And finally, while I applaud most of the choice of music to be recorded-particularly the Elegy and the Legend 'Ave atque vale', I am disappointed that the English Suite No.5(which is already available-with difficulty, admittedly) has been chosen rather than the Suites Nos. 3 and 4 or the Concerto for Orchestra. The English Suite No.4 includes the 'Ashanti Battle Song' and would have been particularly welcome.

Ok...I am being my usual curmudgeonly self(just back from the dentist ;D)...so I will raise three cheers for the project  :) :) :)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on June 03, 2009, 07:39:09 AM
I am also very glad to see some new Brian CDs appearing at last! I know Martin Anderson from Toccata (met him a few times) - he's a fiery soul, but can be rather chaotic and forgetful. I am glad the BBC will be broadcasting these concerts, too... But Colin, why not try to attend the recordings? Brian live is quite an experience!

Regarding the choice of pieces - I for one am glad the Fifth English Suite gets its first professional performance, although it would have been nice to have the other Suites recorded, too. Elegy is marvellous and deserves to be on CD. Ave Atque Vale is one of the last things Brian ever wrote and has (AFAIK) never been performed. The opera CD is very welcome, too. I am especially looking forward to the Turandot Suite (which I heard at St James's Church Piccadilly in 1995 - and I never forgot it) and the Night Ride from Faust, which has never been played.

Happy days are here again!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: karlhenning on June 03, 2009, 07:41:45 AM
- he's a fiery soul, but can be rather chaotic and forgetful.

I am know the type!  8)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Dundonnell on June 03, 2009, 07:51:37 AM
I am also very glad to see some new Brian CDs appearing at last! I know Martin Anderson from Toccata (met him a few times) - he's a fiery soul, but can be rather chaotic and forgetful. I am glad the BBC will be broadcasting these concerts, too... But Colin, why not try to attend the recordings? Brian live is quite an experience!

Regarding the choice of pieces - I for one am glad the Fifth English Suite gets its first professional performance, although it would have been nice to have the other Suites recorded, too. Elegy is marvellous and deserves to be on CD. Ave Atque Vale is one of the last things Brian ever wrote and has (AFAIK) never been performed. The opera CD is very welcome, too. I am especially looking forward to the Turandot Suite (which I heard at St James's Church Piccadilly in 1995 - and I never forgot it) and the Night Ride from Faust, which has never been played.

Happy days are here again!

"Ave atque vale" has been performed, Johan. Once by the LPO under Fredman in 1973 in a recorded performance that was never broadcast(inexplicably) and again last year in Orange County, California by the Orange County High School for the Arts Symphony Orchestra!!!!!!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on June 03, 2009, 09:13:02 AM
"Ave atque vale" has been performed, Johan. Once by the LPO under Fredman in 1973 in a recorded performance that was never broadcast(inexplicably) and again last year in Orange County, California by the Orange County High School for the Arts Symphony Orchestra!!!!!!

I bow down in awe. I have found my master.  ;)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Guido on June 03, 2009, 09:20:13 AM
I really want to hear the cello concerto. Has it ever been recorded non commercially (or braodcast?)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: karlhenning on June 03, 2009, 10:26:19 AM
I really want to hear the cello concerto.

Well, I do call that a surprise!  8)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on June 03, 2009, 11:28:00 AM
Very good news indeed but I note that the blurb says that the releases are designed not to conflict with the 'Naxos Brian Cycle'. What Naxos Brian Cycle? AFAIK Naxos have simply reissued the old Brian Marco Polo releases, with nothing new for years. I have an interesting old CBS LP with the Leicestershire Schools SO performing (very well) Symphony No 22 ('Sinfonia Brevis') one of the English Suites etc. I'd love to see that released on CD and we need a professional recording of one of Brian's greatest works - the Symphony No 10.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Dundonnell on June 03, 2009, 04:06:25 PM
I really want to hear the cello concerto. Has it ever been recorded non commercially (or braodcast?)

It has been performed twice, Guido-first by Thomas Igloi in 1971 in a performance conducted by Sir Adrian Boult(which was broadcast) and again in 1991 by Moray Welsh(not broadcast).
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Guido on June 03, 2009, 10:18:54 PM
I was vaguely aware of those performances somehow* - Was the Igloi performance recorded by anyone (as in can I get it from anyone)?

*ah yes from here: http://www.havergalbrian.org/celloconcerto.htm
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on June 03, 2009, 10:29:59 PM
I was vaguely aware of those performances somehow* - Was the Igloi performance recorded by anyone (as in can I get it from anyone)?

*ah yes from here: http://www.havergalbrian.org/celloconcerto.htm

Can't help. I have it on a very old tape cassette somewhere, which I got from a fellow HBS member in the 1980s (can't do a transfer to mp3). Bad recording, bad sound, and I don't think the Cello Concerto is one of Brian's greatest utterances. His Violin Concerto, on the other hand, is, but you don't play the violin...
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: schweitzeralan on June 04, 2009, 03:18:05 AM
I have a question regarding the Lenard performance of the first symphony. An Amazon reviewer swears blind that the Naxos reissue of the Marco Polo recording sounds a lot better (ie. remastered in some way). This seems a little unexpected, given Naxos' usual policies, but I suppose this symphony is a rather "special" case, so they may have made the effort. Can anyone confirm whether this is true?

I ask because while I prefer the Boult live recording, I feel I should own a proper copy of it - and I don't want the crap one, even if the Marco Polo version is cheaper.

I should perhaps know this, but I never studied all the technical aspects of harmony.  When I listen to The Scriabin/Nemptin "Mysterium," I noticed the subtle, sensuous (in places), the wonderful harmonic intricacies that define the overall, "advanced tonality" typical of many composers before the onrush of Modernism, atonality, serial music, and whatnot.

My question is: is Brian's symphony, the "Gothic," the one that I compared to "Mysterium" conceived and involved in some form of "post tonality?"  I realize it is not atonal nor serial.  That's obvious.  But is it some form of bi tonal, multitonal, or what?  I don't recognize melodic minor passages as I do in the "Mysterium," or in those Scriabinist passages which involve the "Mystic Chord"? 

Much modernist music avoids the diatonic, the major/minor sequence, etc.  Notes and chords recognizable in Debussy, Ravel, Rachmaninoff, Hanson, Barber, Shostakovitch, plus others have their slight dissonances. Many American composers, too many to mention here, create, I believe (but am not sure) in the polytonal mode; and, I  appreciate much of the neoclassical, "modernist" flavor in many 20th century works, American and European alike.  I'm having a hard time with Havregal. There are many modes, to be sure.  I just know so little about them.  My question involves the very basic concept of Brian's technical differences between his "Gothic Symphony," and the "Mysterium," which I prefer despite the depth of Brian's achievement."
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Guido on June 05, 2009, 01:01:58 PM
Can't help. I have it on a very old tape cassette somewhere, which I got from a fellow HBS member in the 1980s (can't do a transfer to mp3). Bad recording, bad sound, and I don't think the Cello Concerto is one of Brian's greatest utterances. His Violin Concerto, on the other hand, is, but you don't play the violin...

Fair enough (though its a shame that its not so good). Just cos I don't play the violin, doesn't mean I can't hear the work... is there a recording you recommend?

What rhyme or reason is there to Brian's good or bad utterances - was there a tailing off of quality, or why was he sometimes more inspired than other times? (if this is even an answerable question!)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Dundonnell on June 05, 2009, 02:48:47 PM
Fair enough (though its a shame that its not so good). Just cos I don't play the violin, doesn't mean I can't hear the work... is there a recording you recommend?

What rhyme or reason is there to Brian's good or bad utterances - was there a tailing off of quality, or why was he sometimes more inspired than other times? (if this is even an answerable question!)

If I can answer your first question :) There is a recording of the Violin Concerto on Naxos with Marat Bisengaliev and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under Lionel Friend. Good performance, not quite so good recording. It is actually Brian's Second Violin Concerto. The First was stolen at Victoria Railway Station in London on June 8th 1934 and never recovered. Brian composed a new concerto incorporating those themes he could remember from the lost work.

As to your second question.....I don't think that Brian composed any 'bad' music :) Malcolm MacDonald-the Brian expert-regards the 14th and 26th symphonies as the weakest but I actually like the 14th's grand gestures ;D There is an unevenness of inspiration...but that is inevitable for most if not all artists surely? But there was no 'tailing off'...Symphony No.30, written when Brian was 91, is a masterpiece.

I am sure however that Johan will wish to reply and will do a much better job than I :)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on June 05, 2009, 10:52:23 PM
I am sure however that Johan will wish to reply and will do a much better job than I :)

Let me say this (I don't have much time):

I agree - there is no 'tailing off'. I do think the first 17 symphonies are all of them extremely varied, a variedness which decreases after that. But the man was already 85! So there are among the final fifteen a few symphonies I could, perhaps, live without (21, 26, even 29, which MM regards as a great piece, but which is IMO slightly formulaic). But even among those symphonies there are moments I cherish. The Cello Concerto inhabits the soundworld of the 'greyer' later symphonies, whereas the much earlier Violin Concerto is Brian in glorious technicolor.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Lilas Pastia on June 06, 2009, 05:10:54 AM
Questions:

- Johan, are the symphonies 6 and 16 from your files the same as the Lyrita disc? If so, where is the Cooke symphony from that disc ? ;D
- Jeffrey, you mention "one of the English suites" . How many are there, and which one is that in Johan's treasure chest Brian files ?
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on June 06, 2009, 07:47:57 AM
Questions:

- Johan, are the symphonies 6 and 16 from your files the same as the Lyrita disc? If so, where is the Cooke symphony from that disc ? ;D
- Jeffrey, you mention "one of the English suites" . How many are there, and which one is that in Johan's treasure chest Brian files ?

-Yes. You want me to upload the Cooke?

-There are 5 English Suites. Jeffrey is referring to a recording of the Fifth, which resides in my Brian files treasure chest...
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Lilas Pastia on June 07, 2009, 03:20:23 AM
Oh, I'd love to have the Cooke, Johan. ARG gives it a great review (along with the Brian symphonies).

And of course I had noticed about the English Suite in your vault (it's not too hermetic ;D).
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on June 07, 2009, 03:37:22 AM
Oh, I'd love to have the Cooke, Johan. ARG gives it a great review (along with the Brian symphonies).

And of course I had noticed about the English Suite in your vault (it's not too hermetic ;D).

Indeed!  ;)

(Upload later today.)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Dundonnell on June 07, 2009, 10:19:50 AM
-Yes. You want me to upload the Cooke?

-There are 5 English Suites. Jeffrey is referring to a recording of the Fifth, which resides in my Brian files treasure chest...

Although, as Johan says, there were 5 English Suites one of them (No. 2 'Night Portraits' from 1914) is lost. The First and Fifth have been recorded: No. 1 by the City of Hull Youth Symphony Orchestra(Cameo Classics LP/Campion CD) and No.5 'Rustic Scenes' by the Leicestershire Schools Symphony Orchestra(CBS LP).
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Lilas Pastia on June 07, 2009, 02:18:02 PM
Thanks, Colin!

It's so gratifying to rub shoulders with scholars and gentlemen like you guys (the Brian Brigade !!).  :-*
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Dundonnell on June 07, 2009, 02:28:56 PM
Thanks, Colin!

It's so gratifying to rub shoulders with scholars and gentlemen like you guys (the Brian Brigade !!).  :-*

I blush at your most generous comment :-[
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on June 07, 2009, 09:52:04 PM
It's so gratifying to rub shoulders with scholars and gentlemen like you guys (the Brian Brigade !!).  :-*

"Look at my chest", the courteous Brianic gentleman said, "it's slightly bigger, due to one Cooke."
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: springrite on June 07, 2009, 10:08:37 PM
"Look at my chest", the courteous Brianic gentleman said, "it's slightly bigger, due to one Cooke."

Never trust a cooke who is too lean.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Lilas Pastia on June 08, 2009, 04:45:06 PM
A lean cook knows self-control ;). I'll check out if this 'cooke' is lean or has enough flesh on its bones!

Johan, you're my hero  :-*
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Dundonnell on June 09, 2009, 02:30:23 AM
Cross-referencing with another thread.......I wonder how many are aware that the American composer and conductor Bernard Herrmann conducted Brian's Comedy Overture "Doctor Merryheart" in the USA round about 1940 with the CBS Symphony Orchestra.

In addition to being a huge supporter of the exiled British composer Richard Arnell Herrmann was a passionate advocate of a lot of other British composers.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Lethevich on June 19, 2009, 11:20:42 PM
The 7th symphony really packs a punch, doesn't it? The final half of the first movement is incredible. It makes me wonder at what point Brian became a "tough cookie" (or even more of one)? My previous favourite symphony - No.27 - is much more inaccessable than No.7, which is more conventionally dramatic/melodic than I had recalled. I presume this is why his 1, 6-9* tend to be the most acclaimed/admired - at some point after 9 he went into wilder terrain, but when? 0:)

I must restate my admiration (after a 'Now Listening' thread post) for this stupendous CD, a real backbone of the Brian discography:

(http://g-ecx.images-amazon.com/images/G/01/ciu/d3/30/88ea53a09da08e723a955110.L.jpg) (http://www.amazon.com/Havergal-Brian-Symphonies-Tinkers-Wedding/dp/B00006YX75/ref=cm_cmu_pg__header)

Edit: Although I do wonder whether this is based on the greater availability of recordings of these workers...
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on June 19, 2009, 11:50:40 PM
It makes me wonder at what point Brian became a "tough cookie" (or even more of one)? (...) I presume this is why his 1, 6-9 tend to be the most acclaimed/admired - at some point after 9 he went into wilder terrain, but when? 0:)

I agree - there is no 'tailing off'. I do think the first 17 symphonies are all of them extremely varied, a variedness which decreases after that. But the man was already 85! So there are among the final fifteen a few symphonies I could, perhaps, live without (21, 26, even 29, which MM regards as a great piece, but which is IMO slightly formulaic). But even among those symphonies there are moments I cherish. The Cello Concerto inhabits the soundworld of the 'greyer' later symphonies, whereas the much earlier Violin Concerto is Brian in glorious technicolor.

So, as Malcolm Macdonald was the first to notice, from No. 18 onwards Brian turns 'classical' and his soundworld becomes drier. But listen to Symphony No. 31 on your 'stupendous' CD, Sarah, and see of what he was capable in his 92th (!) year. The conclusion of that work is very very powerful. No. 31 and No. 27 are quite similar in style. You should like it.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Lethevich on June 20, 2009, 12:05:14 AM
I'll admit that 31 didn't make quite such an impression as the 7th on this listen, but I was kind of expecting that - it does share the same "tough" qualities of 27 - they have the same basis as the earlier symphonies, but everything has been stripped back. This includes memorable themes, which become almost fragmentory, like sunbursts through clouds before swiftly moving on...
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on June 20, 2009, 08:48:58 AM
I'll admit that 31 didn't make quite such an impression as the 7th on this listen, but I was kind of expecting that - it does share the same "tough" qualities of 27 - they have the same basis as the earlier symphonies, but everything has been stripped back. This includes memorable themes, which become almost fragmentory, like sunbursts through clouds before swiftly moving on...

Yes. The man was extremely old. That kind of ellipsis seems to go with a 'late style'. There is a fitful recollection of fullness, of life, being played inside an aged head. I wonder though, as I write this, how Elliott Carter compares...
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Lethevich on June 20, 2009, 09:33:38 AM
This makes me recall something from way back: when I was initially getting into Brian and Googling as much information as I could find online, I encountered a post on another forum (a video game one, of all places) where someone was talking about the late symphonies. They had a similar opinion, but found this restless quality to the music as representing anger - I am not sure that I can detect any overriding mood from them, they seem almost deliberately looking towards regions more abstract than that. It's far more innovative than many composers who have been labeled "modernist"...

Edit: I just ran into this pic of him on Google image search! I hadn't seen it before:

(http://img188.imageshack.us/img188/3114/brianold.jpg)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on June 20, 2009, 11:21:03 AM
This makes me recall something from way back: when I was initially getting into Brian and Googling as much information as I could find online, I encountered a post on another forum (a video game one, of all places) where someone was talking about the late symphonies. They had a similar opinion, but found this restless quality to the music as representing anger - I am not sure that I can detect any overriding mood from them, they seem almost deliberately looking towards regions more abstract than that. It's far more innovative than many composers who have been labeled "modernist"...

Hm, anger, eh? I recall Malcolm Macdonald writing about the codas of several of the later symphonies, that Brian seems to 'finish the work in a spasm of anger'. Aggression is certainly part of Brian's style, there is a lot of testosterone there. If, MM asserts, the Eighth is the 'quintessential' Brian symphony, then tenderness (often expressed in violin solos) and violence (explosions of brass and percussion) are Brian's extremes. So - anger is there, certainly.

P.S. I know the picture. It's Brian around 1910 (I think).
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Renfield on July 19, 2009, 12:58:53 PM
In case this has not been noted elsewhere, Testament are soon 'officially' releasing (among other things) the 1966 Boult 'Gothic'!

[Bottom of this page. (http://testament.co.uk/default.aspx?PageID=3)]
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Lethevich on July 19, 2009, 02:41:10 PM
Good on them, it's an amazing performance and its sales will more than recoup the costs for licencing.

Seems that they really are scraping the barrel with Giulini's Bruckner, though. How many live performances that don't in any way compare to the DG recordings do we need? :P
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Renfield on July 19, 2009, 03:26:03 PM
Seems that they really are scraping the barrel with Giulini's Bruckner, though. How many live performances that don't in any way compare to the DG recordings do we need? :P

Well, they might be less unexceptional than the others. :P
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on July 19, 2009, 04:03:15 PM
In case this has not been noted elsewhere, Testament are soon 'officially' releasing (among other things) the 1966 Boult 'Gothic'!

[Bottom of this page. (http://testament.co.uk/default.aspx?PageID=3)]

Just received the Havergal Brian Society Newsletter. The near future looks exciting indeed for Brianites, with two new CDs coming soon and a performance of the 'Gothic' in Brisbane later this year.

Also this:

Plans continue to advance for a recording of Cello concerto by Dutton Records, though currently it is not known who the cellist will be. Further there are also plans for recording of English Suite 3, Symphony 10 and the Concerto for orchestra also on Dutton for release in 2010.

And I intend, though I am by no means very rich, to put my money where my mouth is for this:


The Boult Gothic : Special appeal to members offers a chance for Glory and Fame!  
 
 
At a time when the fifth performance of the Gothic
Symphony is imminent in Brisbane, your Committee
are pleased to announce that we have come to an
agreement with the highly-regarded Testament label for the
reissue of the first professional performance of the Gothic
Symphony, under Sir Adrian Boult in 1966.  Testament are
licensing the original BBC stereo master tapes in order to
achieve the best quality reproduction of this landmark
recording. To fund this, the HBS has guaranteed between
£2000 to £3000 pounds to cover the costs of remastering,
notes and booklet design.  The reissue of this historic
performance has been a long-standing aim of the Society.
Although we have rarely made specific appeals to members, it
occurred to your Committee that this would be an excellent
project to offer for personal sponsorship and we have
therefore decided to launch a special appeal in its support.  
Accordingly, members are offered the opportunity to be
mentioned by name in the CD booklet as having contributed
to this prestige reissue, with the wording:

“Testament and the Havergal Brian Society are grateful to the
following individual members of the Society, whose generosity has
made this reissue possible : Principal Benefactors:  (names in
alphabetical order)  Benefactors: (names in alphabetical order)”.
 

We are suggesting that those contributing up to £49.99
should be listed in the booklet as “Benefactors” and those
contributing £50 or more as “Principal Benefactors”.  Should
the appeal result in an oversubscription, all who have sent
money by the deadline will be acknowledged as sponsors of
this project and any excess funding will be put towards the
Society’s next planned recording project of a new disc of
orchestral works. We hope that this appeal will fire
members’ enthusiasm as an innovative way of achieving a
wide personal involvement with this important project and
that it will therefore encourage a high number of you to
contribute.  Donors who have already signed a Gift Aid
Declaration will of course be bringing additional benefit to
the Society.
To take this opportunity of being one of the acknowledged
sponsors of the reissue of the Boult Gothic, please complete
the form below (or the same information on a piece of paper)
and return it to the Chairman at the address given.  Because
of the need to pass the list of names to Testament in good
time, the appeal will run for two months only, with a closing
date of ten days after the next Newsletter is sent out, to allow
for that to contain a final reminder.


I intend to contribute £50.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Est.1965 on July 20, 2009, 09:51:22 AM
Great news.   ;D

Nice piece of 'benifacting' there.   :D
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: karlhenning on July 20, 2009, 10:02:41 AM
Lovely!

Separately . . . I am imagining a Brian enthusiast who lives in Vermont, pronouncing his name like Hey, Virgil!  ;)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on July 20, 2009, 10:36:15 AM
Lovely!

Separately . . . I am imagining a Brian enthusiast who lives in Vermont, pronouncing his name like Hey, Virgil!  ;)

 ;D
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on July 21, 2009, 01:31:48 AM
Just received the Havergal Brian Society Newsletter. The near future looks exciting indeed for Brianites, with two new CDs coming soon and a performance of the 'Gothic' in Brisbane later this year.

Also this:

Plans continue to advance for a recording of Cello concerto by Dutton Records, though currently it is not known who the cellist will be. Further there are also plans for recording of English Suite 3, Symphony 10 and the Concerto for orchestra also on Dutton for release in 2010.

And I intend, though I am by no means very rich, to put my money where my mouth is for this:


The Boult Gothic : Special appeal to members offers a chance for Glory and Fame!  
 
 
At a time when the fifth performance of the Gothic
Symphony is imminent in Brisbane, your Committee
are pleased to announce that we have come to an
agreement with the highly-regarded Testament label for the
reissue of the first professional performance of the Gothic
Symphony, under Sir Adrian Boult in 1966.  Testament are
licensing the original BBC stereo master tapes in order to
achieve the best quality reproduction of this landmark
recording. To fund this, the HBS has guaranteed between
£2000 to £3000 pounds to cover the costs of remastering,
notes and booklet design.  The reissue of this historic
performance has been a long-standing aim of the Society.
Although we have rarely made specific appeals to members, it
occurred to your Committee that this would be an excellent
project to offer for personal sponsorship and we have
therefore decided to launch a special appeal in its support.  
Accordingly, members are offered the opportunity to be
mentioned by name in the CD booklet as having contributed
to this prestige reissue, with the wording:

“Testament and the Havergal Brian Society are grateful to the
following individual members of the Society, whose generosity has
made this reissue possible : Principal Benefactors:  (names in
alphabetical order)  Benefactors: (names in alphabetical order)”.
 

We are suggesting that those contributing up to £49.99
should be listed in the booklet as “Benefactors” and those
contributing £50 or more as “Principal Benefactors”.  Should
the appeal result in an oversubscription, all who have sent
money by the deadline will be acknowledged as sponsors of
this project and any excess funding will be put towards the
Society’s next planned recording project of a new disc of
orchestral works. We hope that this appeal will fire
members’ enthusiasm as an innovative way of achieving a
wide personal involvement with this important project and
that it will therefore encourage a high number of you to
contribute.  Donors who have already signed a Gift Aid
Declaration will of course be bringing additional benefit to
the Society.
To take this opportunity of being one of the acknowledged
sponsors of the reissue of the Boult Gothic, please complete
the form below (or the same information on a piece of paper)
and return it to the Chairman at the address given.  Because
of the need to pass the list of names to Testament in good
time, the appeal will run for two months only, with a closing
date of ten days after the next Newsletter is sent out, to allow
for that to contain a final reminder.


I intend to contribute £50.


Very exciting news Johan - I'm especially pleased to see Symphony No 10 at last having a CD release with a professional orchestra - it is one of the best.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: secondwind on July 21, 2009, 03:03:39 AM
Bumping Brian is always welcome... If Brian is new to you, why not try these symphonies for starters and see what you make of them:

http://www.mediafire.com/file/0jf2yvnm2tj/Brian 8.mp3

http://www.mediafire.com/file/wijgqyozmjm/Brian Symphony No. 6 LPO Myer Fredman.mp3

http://www.mediafire.com/file/nn0axd1ichy/Brian 17 (BBC).mp3

They're all short. No. 8 is a battle between light and dark, yes and no, Brian at his most binary; No. 6 is Brian's most lyrical symphony; and No. 17 is fast, dramatic and violent.
I've just listened to Brian Symphony No. 6 via your link.  Thanks for sharing and thanks for an introduction to a new (to me) composer.  I'm looking forward to hearing more.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on July 21, 2009, 11:26:54 AM
Very exciting news Johan - I'm especially pleased to see Symphony No 10 at last having a CD release with a professional orchestra - it is one of the best.

Yes, No. 10 is certainly one of the best and a work that is very special to me. It has been great having that Loughran performance ever since 1973, but after more than 35 years it is high time for another interpretation, in better sound and with, yes, a professional orchestra (at last).

Another quote from the HBS Newsletter (my italics):

There is a proposal, now that the part-songs are being type
set for a 2 CD with Mark Ford and the Purcell Singers to
record these complete for Toccata Classics.  He reflected that
currently things are looking very good in regards to the
quality and number of projects, funds available to support
these but that donations are always welcome. The committee
is also pursuing the historic Boult recording of The Gothic
being released on CD and specific donations towards this
project would be very welcome, and any direct sponsors may
be able to be listed and thanked within the CD. The Harry
Newstone 1959 recordings of Symphonies 11 and 12 and
Doctor Merryheart are hopefully going to be issued due to the
lapsing of the copyright after 50 years and Dutton are keen to
support this.
  In regards to Naxos there are three further
reissues (and they have been currently reissuing the Marco
Polo recordings at one a year). There are no current plans for
new recordings and that while new recordings will be
supported other companies will be pursued for non
symphonic works as well as supporting other companies who
show interest in recording Brian.

I've just listened to Brian Symphony No. 6 via your link.  Thanks for sharing and thanks for an introduction to a new (to me) composer.  I'm looking forward to hearing more.

Good news. Please report back after listening to the others - these three are quite different, though they are all as Brianic as they come.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Lethevich on July 21, 2009, 11:47:18 AM
All these happenings in the past year have been incredible. Just before the Lyrita reissue of 6 and 16, pretty much the only thing on the Brian horizon for the forseeable future was a dubiously likely Australian performance of No.1 - but now all this! :D
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Guido on July 22, 2009, 08:41:44 AM
This is fantastic news! Really looking forward to the cello concerto, and all the symphony releases. Exciting.  :)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on October 26, 2009, 06:37:40 AM
Released this month (Boult's performance of The Gothic Symphony). Johan/Jezetha will be delighted!

Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Guido on October 26, 2009, 07:29:02 AM
Hmm... Just got the Naxos recording of the violin concerto and am not sure that it is as immediately likeable and accessible as people are making out here... Obviously I'll need to listen a few more times, but it's just not what I was expecting!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on October 26, 2009, 08:33:12 AM
Released this month (Boult's performance of The Gothic Symphony). Johan/Jezetha will be delighted!

Do you mean released already? I don't see it listed at either amazon or JPC.

Sarge
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: listener on October 26, 2009, 10:55:19 AM
That double LP - is that the pirated recording of the Boult 'Gothic', on Aries?

yes, according to MacDonald's "Symphonies of H.... vol.1"   (appendix 3)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: listener on October 26, 2009, 11:49:47 AM
The bird-scare, long drum and thunder sheet are marked in the instrumentarium, but don't appear in the score; it's conjectured that they are to be played in the final climax[es] of the piece.

A relatively common instrument like the celesta, believe it or not, only has a very brief appearance in the score, too.

The bird scare is in the score, 2 bars before cue 421 (Lento Adagio - "Non confundar" a cappella ) and the bar before 427.   The first appearance is marked "bird scares"  (plural!  need more than one player??)

That's it, above the organ chord.  Sorry, I was worried about cracking the binding so I did not force it open more to show the left side with the instrumentation.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on October 26, 2009, 02:05:17 PM
Do you mean released already? I don't see it listed at either amazon or JPC.

Sarge
In 3-4 weeks time.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on October 27, 2009, 12:57:41 AM
Hmm... Just got the Naxos recording of the violin concerto and am not sure that it is as immediately likeable and accessible as people are making out here... Obviously I'll need to listen a few more times, but it's just not what I was expecting!

I'm not that keen on the VC either - but have you tried symphonies 8 or 9? These ARE great works IMHO.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Christo on October 27, 2009, 11:51:48 PM
Released this month (Boult's performance of The Gothic Symphony). Johan/Jezetha will be delighted!

The other Johan will be delighted, too! (Back again after four months of reclusion - moved into a new house ;-)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on October 28, 2009, 01:29:02 AM
The other Johan will be delighted, too! (Back again after four months of reclusion - moved into a new house ;-)
Of course, I forgot that the two of you constituted the entire membership of the Havergal Brian Society  ;D

Actually, I'm delighted too - so there are at least three members - almost as big as the JBS Society  ;)

Nice to see you back in circulation again.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Guido on October 28, 2009, 04:38:41 AM
I'm not that keen on the VC either - but have you tried symphonies 8 or 9? These ARE great works IMHO.

No.8 is the first Brian I heard and remains my favourite. Great piece with a capital G.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on October 28, 2009, 11:39:45 AM
Released this month (Boult's performance of The Gothic Symphony). Johan/Jezetha will be delighted!

He is (belatedly)!!

Re the Violin Concerto - I think it's one of Brian's most beautiful works. But the first movement isn't easy - there is so much happening, you can lose your way. Of course, Brian compensates by the simplicity of some of the themes, but the textures can be rather rich (I won't say 'thick'...) The second and third movements aren't that difficult. The second is a moving Passacaglia with some violent passages and the final movement is very English and very straightforward (IMO). In all three movements there are dreamy, magical moments, when the music seems to come to a complete standstill. Yes, I like the VC very much. And the playing by Bisengaliev (Christo and I saw him playing the piece in 1995 - that's where we met...) is absolutely superb.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Christo on October 28, 2009, 11:56:56 AM
And the playing by Bisengaliev (Christo and I saw him playing the piece in 1995 - that's where we met...) is absolutely superb.

Indeed. We were young, in those days. 8) And live Marat Bisengaliev (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marat_Bisengaliev)'s playing was even better than in the recording, I seem to recall.  :)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on October 28, 2009, 11:59:05 AM
Indeed. We were young, in those days. 8) And live Marat Bisengaliev (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marat_Bisengaliev)'s playing was even than in the recording, I seem to recall.  :)

Yes, his live performance was even better. I remember it well, even at my age...
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on October 28, 2009, 01:50:29 PM
He is (belatedly)!!

Re the Violin Concerto - I think it's one of Brian's most beautiful works. But the first movement isn't easy - there is so much happening, you can lose your way. Of course, Brian compensates by the simplicity of some of the themes, but the textures can be rather rich (I won't say 'thick'...) The second and third movements aren't that difficult. The second is a moving Passacaglia with some violent passages and the final movement is very English and very straightforward (IMO). In all three movements there are dreamy, magical moments, when the music seems to come to a complete standstill. Yes, I like the VC very much. And the playing by Bisengaliev (Christo and I saw him playing the piece in 1995 - that's where we met...) is absolutely superb.

OK, I shall have another battle with the Violin Concerto.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on October 28, 2009, 03:26:46 PM
OK, I shall have another battle with the Violin Concerto.

Excellent, Jeffrey.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Christo on February 09, 2010, 11:12:51 AM
           (http://www.classicstoday.com/images/coverpics/12608_coverpic.jpg) (http://www.classicstoday.com/images/sp_art/p3s3.gif)

David Hurwitz's verdict on Classicstoday:

Quote
Havergal Brian actually was an interesting and characterful composer, not that you'd know it from this disgusting train wreck of a performance. Yes, it's "legendary", and it enjoyed a previous existence on, among other things, a dim Aries pirate LP that led one to hope that the original tapes sounded better. They don't, at least not such as would make any difference. The limited stereo broadcast sonics (from 1966) can't begin to clarify the score's textural complexities, while Boult, never the most incisive of conductors, holds the reins slackly and seems not to know the difference between melody and accompaniment--to the extent that one can tell, that is. He gets through the first three orchestral movements by playing them relatively quickly and hoping for the best, but when the choruses come in the result is simply mud, a totally chaotic mess of impenetrable noise. If you have the Marco Polo (now Naxos) recording, featuring most of the population of Bratislava, you will experience a much cleaner and more powerful (though far from perfect) sense of what the music is about. Life is too short for this.

Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Renfield on February 09, 2010, 11:22:48 AM
I'm sure the population of Bratislava would be as offended as Sir Adrian Boult's ghost.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Lethevich on February 09, 2010, 11:32:03 AM
Even in the un-remastered version I heard, the Boult was finer. The sound wasn't that bad - the choral transparency isn't perfect, but so much of the Marco Polo recording was imperfect as well... I'd say that the two compliment each other well, although I'd sacrifice ten Mahler recordings at the altar to the music gods to hear it in modern sound with a modern orchestra.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on February 12, 2010, 09:17:34 AM
           (http://www.classicstoday.com/images/coverpics/12608_coverpic.jpg) (http://www.classicstoday.com/images/sp_art/p3s3.gif)

David Hurwitz's verdict on Classicstoday:


Life is too short to read such rubbish. I know the Boult Gothic, the Schmidt Gothic and the Lenard Gothic back to front. Boult has always impressed me the most. As Sarah says, even in its unremastered guise you can hear the quality of his interpretation (I still have to hear the Testament). Remember - there was and is no performing tradition. That not everything is perfect, of course! The choruses in the Te Deum aren't transparant-sounding, perhaps they never will be, because that is part of Brian's (flawed?) intention. But to say Boult 'seems not to know the difference between melody and accompaniment' is the cheap jibe of a hack.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on February 13, 2010, 06:54:02 AM

Life is too short to read such rubbish. I know the Boult Gothic, the Schmidt Gothic and the Lenard Gothic back to front. Boult has always impressed me the most. As Sarah says, even in its unremastered guise you can hear the quality of his interpretation (I still have to hear the Testament). Remember - there was and is no performing tradition. That not everything is perfect, of course! The choruses in the Te Deum aren't transparant-sounding, perhaps they never will be, because that is part of Brian's (flawed?) intention. But to say Boult 'seems not to know the difference between melody and accompaniment' is the cheap jibe of a hack.

Lenard wins on sound quality of the recording but Boult wins the gold medal for interpretation...except for the Vivace third movement. I think Lenard nails it. Boult's leap across the harmonic universe at the climax just deosn't raise the goosebumps; sounds anemic next to Lenard. Bottomline: both recordings are essential for Brian fanatics.

Sarge
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on February 14, 2010, 06:46:38 AM
Lenard wins on sound quality of the recording but Boult wins the gold medal for interpretation...except for the Vivace third movement. I think Lenard nails it. Boult's leap across the harmonic universe at the climax just deosn't raise the goosebumps; sounds anemic next to Lenard. Bottomline: both recordings are essential for Brian fanatics.

Sarge


I know the climax of the Vivace is your all-time 'greatest moment in music', Sarge. No goosebumps there is a very bad sign indeed... But one thing that always bothers me about the Lenard (and has detracted me from full enjoyment) - the bizarre xylophone solo in the build-up is incomplete, it simply stops along the way. In the Boult it's all there... I'll listen again to the two recordings and see how they compare. 
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on February 14, 2010, 01:35:18 PM

I know the climax of the Vivace is your all-time 'greatest moment in music', Sarge. No goosebumps there is a very bad sign indeed... But one thing that always bothers me about the Lenard (and has detracted me from full enjoyment) - the bizarre xylophone solo in the build-up is incomplete, it simply stops along the way. In the Boult it's all there... I'll listen again to the two recordings and see how they compare.

I hadn't noticed that. I'll listen again too.

Sarge
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: snyprrr on February 14, 2010, 09:01:30 PM
obsessing over xylophone solos?,...hmmm...

... is the Gothic for me?,hmmm...

Still haven't heard a Brian symphony,... yet!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on February 15, 2010, 01:46:10 AM
I think that we need to discuss the wind machine  ;D
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Lethevich on February 15, 2010, 01:50:29 AM
Snips - If you like Mahler, give the Gothic a try - but the rest are in an increasingly different style, especially after the 4th. The best way in is the budget EMI twofer with 7-9, etc.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on February 15, 2010, 02:07:42 AM
I think that we need to discuss the wind machine  ;D


I'm game!  :D


Snips - If you like Mahler, give the Gothic a try - but the rest are in an increasingly different style, especially after the 4th. The best way in is the budget EMI twofer with 7-9, etc.


Indeed. But why not do this - download these three symphonies, snyprrr, and see what you make of them (and listen out for the wind machine in No. 10!):
 
8th: http://www.mediafire.com/?0jf2yvnm2tj
9th: http://www.mediafire.com/?pngtzmyzlyg
10th: http://www.mediafire.com/?xztyigy2wjz
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Daverz on February 15, 2010, 03:27:12 AM
It may have come up somehwere in these 19 pages, but I was ready to give up on Brian until I heard his Symphony No. 6 "Sinfonia Tragica" on Lyrita.  That's what I'd suggest as a starting place for anyone curious about him.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on February 15, 2010, 04:52:20 AM
It may have come up somehwere in these 19 pages, but I was ready to give up on Brian until I heard his Symphony No. 6 "Sinfonia Tragica" on Lyrita.  That's what I'd suggest as a starting place for anyone curious about him.

Did you hear Symphony No 8? My favourite and quite approachable.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: snyprrr on February 15, 2010, 08:29:32 AM
I think that we need to discuss the wind machine  ;D

BRING-IT-ON!! :P :P :P



Snips - If you like Mahler, give the Gothic a try - but the rest are in an increasingly different style, especially after the 4th. The best way in is the budget EMI twofer with 7-9, etc.

Sounds like Myaskovsky, perhaps (not the music, the trajectory)?



I will listen to those downloads, thank you.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on February 15, 2010, 09:44:06 AM
It may have come up somehwere in these 19 pages, but I was ready to give up on Brian until I heard his Symphony No. 6 "Sinfonia Tragica" on Lyrita.  That's what I'd suggest as a starting place for anyone curious about him.


Okay, let's give the non-converted a chance...


Symphony No. 6, 'Sinfonia Tragica': http://www.mediafire.com/?wijgqyozmjm (http://www.mediafire.com/?wijgqyozmjm)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Hattoff on February 16, 2010, 11:50:51 PM
Hi Jezetha,
Have you found a recording of Brian's Concerto for Orchestra yet? If you remember it was the one orchestral piece available that I couldn't send you, having lost it on a faulty tape.

I did manage to get those Prokofiev rarities from Russia but some new unknown works have turned up for me to worry about hearing >:(. Life is one big adventure. :)
best
Steven.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on February 17, 2010, 06:02:21 AM
My Gothic arrived today  :)

(http://photos.imageevent.com/sgtrock/oct2009/BrianGothicBoult.jpg)

It's been a long wait. I heard about Boult's recording in the early 70s. Been waiting impatiently ever since. (Jezetha, of course, provided a fine stopgap in the form of mp3s.) Speaking of thunder machines and bird-scares, there's a pic of the percussionists in the booklet:

(http://photos.imageevent.com/sgtrock/oct2009/img047.jpg)

The sound of the recording is far from perfect but much better than I thought it would be. (Hurwitz's score is ridiculous). I'd give it a 9/6 (I still don't like Boult's Vivace. The instrumental balance seems odd...or maybe I'm just used to the sound of the Marco Polo recording).

Sarge
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Lethevich on February 17, 2010, 06:09:08 AM
Thanks for the pic. Weird how modern day young hipsters aspire to look exactly like that guy in the left.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on February 17, 2010, 06:13:04 AM
Thanks for that great picture, Sarge! As for the Vivace - I heard the Boult first, so perhaps it is what I am used to. But don't get me wrong - I do like Lenard's version, too. Boult is more impatient to keep the music moving, whereas Lenard sometimes takes his time, bringing out more of the instrumental detail. And of course, his is the better recording... Yes, we need both, as you say.


Thanks for the pic. Weird how modern day young hipsters aspire to look exactly like that guy in the left.


Indeed. I noticed that too. I see young people now wearing glasses with thick frames that were considered terribly old-fashioned for a very long time!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on February 17, 2010, 06:20:27 AM
As for the Vivace - I heard the Boult first, so perhaps it is what I am used to.

Yes. I heard Lenard's Vivace well over a hundred times before hearing Boult. Lenard was deeply imprinted  ;D

Sarge
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Daverz on February 17, 2010, 07:19:02 AM
Did you hear Symphony No 8? My favourite and quite approachable.

I have an EMI twofer with that one on the to-listen pile.  I'll move it up in the queue.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on February 17, 2010, 07:24:26 AM
Thanks for the pic. Weird how modern day young hipsters aspire to look exactly like that guy in the left.

Yes, the Michael Caine look:

(http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/images/multimedia/sixties/bailey_caine.jpg)


Sarge
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on February 17, 2010, 12:42:50 PM
Hi Jezetha,
Have you found a recording of Brian's Concerto for Orchestra yet? If you remember it was the one orchestral piece available that I couldn't send you, having lost it on a faulty tape.

Alas, no joy, Steven. But I am still very grateful for all the things you could send me - I have uploaded them to Mediafire and they have been downloaded scores of times.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Mirror Image on June 30, 2010, 12:51:35 PM
My Brian collection isn't that large:
 
-Symphony No. 1 "Gothic," Ondrej Lenard, Slovak Philharmonic Orch. and Choir, Slovak Radio Symphony, Naxos
-Symphony No. 2, Tony Rowe, Moscow Symphony, Naxos
-Symphony No. 3, Lionel Friend, BBC Symphony, Hyperion
-Symphonies Nos. 4 & 12, Adrian Leaper, Slovak Philharmonic, Naxos
-Violin Concerto, Symphony No. 18, The Jolly Miller Overture, Lionel Friend, BBC Scottish Symphony, Naxos
 
My favorite work by Brian that I've heard so far is his "Gothic" symphony. This is really an outstanding work. To say this wasn't ambitious is certainly an understatement!
 
I think Brian's day will come sooner or later. I would like to hear a major orchestra or should I say orchestras perform the "Gothic." This work does need a dedicated conductor not that the conductor on the Naxos wasn't dedicated, but there just needs to be a new recording. I would like to hear Simon Rattle conduct this work with both the Berliners and maybe they could team up with another German orchestra like the Hamburg Philharmonic (who have performed admirably well under Simon Young) or the Frankfurt Radio Symphony or the Munich Philharmonic or the Cologne Radio Symphony (who thanks to Wand and Bertini are more well-known). The record company I would like to record this massive score would be either Deutsche Grammophon, Chandos, BIS, or Ondine. Any of these labels would do nicely.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Klaatu on August 14, 2010, 05:19:21 AM
Hello to everyone from a newbie.

Happy memories of the days when I was a member of the HBS. Especially that evening back in - 1990 was it? - when I sat in Birmingham Town Hall to hear the "Orchestra of the Composers' Platform" play Brian's 3rd Symphony. This was memorable partly because of the music, but mainly because it's the only concert I've ever been to where the orchestra significantly outnumbered the audience!

Just been listening to HB's 11th today; first time in a long time. (I've been off on an excursion into heavy rock and blues over the last few years; classical has taken a back seat to Hound Dog Taylor and Iron Maiden!)

What a great little work No. 11 is! A deeply thoughtful adagio to kick things off, then a childlike and jovial central movement, and a bustling little march to finish. Fairly lighthearted and easy on the ear for Brian, this could be a nice introduction to his symphonies for the uninitiated.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Lethevich on August 14, 2010, 01:28:56 PM
Excellent to have another Brianite on board, welcome to the forum! :)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on August 15, 2010, 12:11:44 AM
Hello to everyone from a newbie.

Happy memories of the days when I was a member of the HBS. Especially that evening back in - 1990 was it? - when I sat in Birmingham Town Hall to hear the "Orchestra of the Composers' Platform" play Brian's 3rd Symphony. This was memorable partly because of the music, but mainly because it's the only concert I've ever been to where the orchestra significantly outnumbered the audience!

Just been listening to HB's 11th today; first time in a long time. (I've been off on an excursion into heavy rock and blues over the last few years; classical has taken a back seat to Hound Dog Taylor and Iron Maiden!)

What a great little work No. 11 is! A deeply thoughtful adagio to kick things off, then a childlike and jovial central movement, and a bustling little march to finish. Fairly lighthearted and easy on the ear for Brian, this could be a nice introduction to his symphonies for the uninitiated.

Yes, welcome to the forum Klaatu from another former HBS member. Symphony No 11 is indeed one of the best along with, IMHO, Nos 1,2, three (than number doesn't work on my keypad!)6,7,8,9, 10 and 16. If I could only choose one for my desert island it would be No 8.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Klaatu on August 15, 2010, 11:17:20 AM
Desert island Brian?

Hmmmm......

The Gothic, 6, 8, 10 and 16 are my shortlist.....

10 and 16 are my short short list.......

Don't ask me to choose!

About time we had a fully professional recording of No 10, one of HBs greatest scores. Doesn't his music sound much more convincing when played & interpreted well? - the CD reissue of Myer Fredman's 6 and 16 being a prime example; probably the best recorded version of any Brian works.

Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: snyprrr on August 15, 2010, 09:38:42 PM
I finally listened to a mvmt from the No.10, I believe, on YouTube, with the Leicheshestshire (oops!, sorry :-[), is that it? The famous one,...well, anyway, I think I'd like HB a lot,... very autumnal, in the vigorous way,... definitely reminds me of a Pastoral Pettersson,...

ooo, haha, that's making me laugh :D,...Pastoral Pettersson, haha

anyhow, I'll have to listen to some Amazon snippets.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Klaatu on August 16, 2010, 02:32:43 AM
Leicheshestshire?

Is that anywhere near Worchesshestershershire where I live - or is it over by Gloucheschestershetchestershire?

Brian himself was born, of course, in Stoke-on-Trent, which is in Staffordshestershirechestershetshire.
A lot of great composers come from Stoke - Lemmy from Motörhead, for example. (Who can forget that towering masterpiece The Ace of Spades?) Slash from Guns 'N' Roses. And Robbie Williams.

Anyway, hope you enjoy listening to HB. If you want a really well-played, well-recorded and approachable piece, try HB's 6th on the Lyrita CD with Myer Fredman conducting. It's one of the few occasions where HB gets quite tuneful!

The 10th is a great piece. It seems to sum up the old curmudgeon's whole worldview in less than 20 minutes. Love the "storm", the plaintive violin solo, and that extraordinary chord at the end. The Leicestershire (that's it!) Schools' Symphony Orchestra make a very creditable stab at this work, and do themselves proud. But surely it's way, way beyond time that we had a fully professional orchestra, with a conductor sympathetic to Brian's idiom, record this symphony. Preferably with a pre-recording live performance at the Henry Wood Proms!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Lethevich on August 16, 2010, 02:59:29 AM
Leicheshestshire?
Hehe, it's better than how Callas pronounced it - li-chester if I recall correctly :D

You have inspired me to relisten to the 6th and 16th on that Lyrita CD. I have somehow allowed those works to be overshadowed by my excitement at discovering Arnold Cooke's 3rd on the same disc.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Klaatu on August 16, 2010, 10:02:32 AM
Hope you enjoy 6 and 16, Lethe.

They are brilliantly played and recorded, but take a bit of getting into - the 6th less so, because of its lyrical heart. Here's a review I posted on the Amazon website and the final paragraph is particularly relevant:

5.0 out of 5 stars

Two of Billy Brian's finest

The original Lyrita LP of Symphonies 6 and 16 was my first introduction to Havergal Brian, and I'm grateful that the recording is now available on CD.

What we have here is one of Brian's most approachable symphonies (No 6), paired with one of his greatest (No 16).
The sixth, "Sinfonia Tragica", is redolent of Irish mists and ancient Celtic battles. The prominence of the harp in its first section adds to this Celtic flavour. In some ways it has an atmosphere similar to Vaughan Williams' sixth, with a gloriously lyrical tune at its heart, surrounded by violence, conflict and tragedy. The percussion-driven final section brings to mind shield-walls and battleaxes, and reminds me of two other (widely disparate) examples of great British music - parts of Arthur Bliss's superb ballet suite "Checkmate", and the album "Ours is the Kingdom" by the excellent heavy-metal band Forefather.(Especially the opening track, appropriately named "The Shield-Wall".)

Technically the musicianship is top-notch; however I agree with reviewer R. A. Howe that more soaring passion could have been injected into the work's lyrical peaks - after all, Brian doesn't write Big Tunes too often and conductors should wallow in them a bit!

Number 16 is, for me, Brian's greatest symphony next to the "Gothic" (No 1) - yet these two works couldn't be more different; the "Gothic" is a gigantic, labyrinthine structure demanding unprecedented choral and orchestral forces, whilst the 16th is all over in under 20 minutes. Yet No. 16 feels immense; an enormous amount happens within its six interlinked sections - the brooding, mysterious introduction; the surging impetus of the allegro; the arrival of one of Brian's famous "moments of stillness" where the orchestra is reduced to a walking bass line on plucked strings; the crackpot fugue; the very brief but surprisingly poignant adagio section, and last but certainly not least the barbarously powerful coda, possibly Brian's most convincingly triumphant ending. This Symphony was composed while Brian was reading Herodotus' account of the Battle of Thermopylae and that coda has a whiff of sheer bloody defiance about it - bringing to my mind the words of King Leonidas before the battle: "Eat a hearty breakfast, boys, for tonight we dine in Hell!"

The LSO under Fredman have the measure of the piece; one can possibly imagine a bit more fire and drama here and there but overall it's a fine account of a symphony that takes some "getting into", but which grabs you by the nether regions once it has worked its way into your system.

Calum MacDonald's highly readable and perceptive notes are a great asset in getting to grips with this curmudgeonly composer. (His three-volume study of Brian's symphonies is similarly excellent.)

The companion-piece on this disc is Arnold Cooke's Third Symphony. A far more conventional creation than either of the Brian works, this is a representative of that infamous genre the "Cheltenham Symphony". But it's a superior one; the two outer movements have a convincing drive and energy whilst the central slow movement is haunted and restless rather than insipid and sentimental. I enjoyed this piece more than I thought I would and it's given a polished performance by the LSO under Nicholas Braithwaite.

A must-have disc, then, for anyone interested in Brian's music. But newcomers are warned, the old duffer takes some getting used to. I disliked this music on first hearing (my musical God at the time was Mahler) but it slowly infiltrated my cranium until I had to agree with Robert Simpson: "As we learn our way into Brian's music it becomes more and more significant until we discover ourselves face to face with a great composer." Nuff said!

 
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on August 16, 2010, 11:59:40 AM
Brian himself was born, of course, in Stoke-on-Trent, which is in Staffordshestershirechestershetshire.
A lot of great composers come from Stoke - Lemmy from Motörhead, for example. (Who can forget that towering masterpiece The Ace of Spades?) Slash from Guns 'N' Roses. And Robbie Williams.

Did you write the book? (http://www.amazon.de/People-Stoke-Trent-Williams-Darwin-Wedgwood/dp/1157718965/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=books-intl-de&qid=1281992148&sr=1-3)  ;D

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51aCUsi2GUL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)


Sarge
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Klaatu on August 16, 2010, 12:32:11 PM
Mea non culpa, Sarge!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on August 20, 2010, 11:12:43 AM
Very exciting new historical Dutton release (super-budget) includes Havergal Brian's 9th and 11th symphonies - two of the best.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: drogulus on August 20, 2010, 12:10:23 PM
    I've listened to the 7th more than any other Brian, and it's the happiest, fun-est symphony of the 20th century, which by my recollection was not exactly a barrel of laughs musically or any other wise.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Guido on August 20, 2010, 12:44:02 PM
    I've listened to the 7th more than any other Brian, and it's the happiest, fun-est symphony of the 20th century, which by my recollection was not exactly a barrel of laughs musically or any other wise.

Not one I have - is this one that has a commercial recording?
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: drogulus on August 20, 2010, 12:56:43 PM
Not one I have - is this one that has a commercial recording?

     Yes, a very good one with Mackerras and the Royal Liverpool PO. It's available with this 2 CD set:

     (http://g-ecx.images-amazon.com/images/G/01/ciu/d3/30/88ea53a09da08e723a955110.L.jpg)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: drogulus on August 20, 2010, 01:09:32 PM

     Another one I really love is the flute symphony, No. 27, which I think is sourced from a radio broadcast from the late '70s. It's MacKerras again, this time with my favorite orchestra, the Philharmonia.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Lethevich on August 20, 2010, 04:18:31 PM
I really dig the 27th, perhaps in part due to the unusually good performance it gets in that broadcast. I wish somebody would licence it to CD, as I'd like to own a copy.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Klaatu on August 21, 2010, 03:31:48 AM
Very exciting new historical Dutton release (super-budget) includes Havergal Brian's 9th and 11th symphonies - two of the best.

Thanks for alerting me to this one, Vandermolen.

Dutton really are the dogs b******s when it comes to releasing both new and long-forgotten recordings of the long-forgotten minor works of major British composers and the major works of long-forgotten British composers.

( :-X What the heck did I just say? )

Let's hope this could be a prelude to Dutton finding and releasing some more archive recordings of HB symphonies - maybe they could fill the gaps in the abandoned Marco Polo cycle.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: DavidW on October 21, 2010, 06:16:12 AM
I checked on arkivmusic and there are only two recordings of the Gothic symphony in print.  I thought this was a famous symphony?! ???  What gives?  Does everyone listen to the one on naxos then?  And it's good right?
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: MN Dave on October 21, 2010, 06:20:28 AM
I checked on arkivmusic and there are only two recordings of the Gothic symphony in print.  I thought this was a famous symphony?! ???  What gives?  Does everyone listen to the one on naxos then?  And it's good right?

It's only famous on GMG.  ;D
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on October 21, 2010, 07:51:45 AM
It's only famous on GMG.  ;D

And only in the Brian threads. Elsewhere, utterly unknown. Seriously, only a few of us have actually heard the work.

I checked on arkivmusic and there are only two recordings of the Gothic symphony in print.  I thought this was a famous symphony?! ???  What gives?  Does everyone listen to the one on naxos then?  And it's good right?

Good enough...only it's my opinion that one needs both Lenard and Boult. But then, I'm crazy for the Gothic...or perhaps, just crazy  ;D

Sarge
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Brian on October 21, 2010, 08:16:57 AM
I listened to my first Brian Havergal today. Eighteenth Symphony, only 14 minutes long. It was a nice work, although I haven't gone mad and subscribed to this thread yet.  :D
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: MN Dave on October 21, 2010, 08:17:40 AM
I listened to my first Brian Havergal today. Eighteenth Symphony, only 14 minutes long. It was a nice work, although I haven't gone mad and subscribed to this thread yet.  :D

Shun the thread!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: DavidW on October 21, 2010, 08:48:34 AM
Haha Brian!  I was going to search for Brian, and then I thought of you ::) so I added Gothic.  Now of course if you change your title to Gothic Brian I'll be totally screwed for future searches! :D :D
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: DavidW on October 21, 2010, 08:49:39 AM
Good enough...only it's my opinion that one needs both Lenard and Boult. But then, I'm crazy for the Gothic...or perhaps, just crazy  ;D

Sarge

Cool beans Sarge! :)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Mirror Image on October 21, 2010, 06:51:19 PM
...so I added Gothic.

Oh it's truly a great symphony, but it's so massive. My suggestion, not that you need any help, but is to take it a bit slow at first. There's so many ideas that are being bombarded at you that you just have to take two steps back and breathe a minute. It's a beautiful work and is really my favorite favorite Brian symphony.
 
Hope you enjoy it! Which one did you get? The one on Naxos (originally on Marco Polo) or Boult's recording?
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: DavidW on October 21, 2010, 08:05:13 PM
I went with naxos. :)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: greg on October 21, 2010, 08:19:18 PM
I checked on arkivmusic and there are only two recordings of the Gothic symphony in print.  I thought this was a famous symphony?! ???  What gives?  Does everyone listen to the one on naxos then?  And it's good right?
If it weren't for GMG, I would just know it as "the longest symphony ever recorded." It was mentioned Mahler's 3rd is "the longest symphony in the repertoire," which I guess implies that Brian 1st is hardly ever performed.


I listened to my first Brian Havergal today. Eighteenth Symphony, only 14 minutes long. It was a nice work, although I haven't gone mad and subscribed to this thread yet.  :D
Man, I could fit about 4 or 5 Brian symphonies on one CD... (actually, I have several like this)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Mirror Image on October 21, 2010, 08:20:48 PM
I went with naxos. :)

Excellent choice. There are some flaws with that recording (the microphone placements in the second part being one of them), but it is remarkable that such a project came together. The liner notes are also quite good, so be sure to check those out.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Albion on December 14, 2010, 12:17:52 AM
Hi, I've just joined the forum. As my name implies I'm a British music fanatic - I wonder if anybody could point me in the direction of recordings of Brian's Symphonies 21, 22, 24 and the Elegy (1954). I followed the link to Jezetha's wonderful mp3 emporium earlier in this thread, but these works aren't included. Any help gratefully received!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on December 14, 2010, 06:34:46 AM
I wonder if anybody could point me in the direction of recordings of Brian's Symphonies 21, 22, 24 and the Elegy (1954). I followed the link to Jezetha's wonderful mp3 emporium earlier in this thread, but these works aren't included. Any help gratefully received!

They aren't? Really? I'm sure that's where I found 22 and 24. In any case I uploaded the mp3s to Rapidshare. You can download here:

http://rapidshare.com/files/436878541/Brian_22.mp3

http://rapidshare.com/files/436880825/Brian_24.mp3

21 was once available on CD:

(http://photos.imageevent.com/sgtrock/oct2010/brian1021.jpg)

You might try looking in the usual places (Ebay, Amazon) for a used copy.

Sarge
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Albion on December 14, 2010, 11:16:38 AM
I uploaded the mp3s to Rapidshare. You can download here:

http://rapidshare.com/files/436878541/Brian_22.mp3

http://rapidshare.com/files/436880825/Brian_24.mp3

Many thanks for providing these links - I've checked Jezethas's list again (http://www.mediafire.com/?sharekey=191b3b8d4da3c14f8c9e7c56ba37815ff04eac5398a24e6c (http://www.mediafire.com/?sharekey=191b3b8d4da3c14f8c9e7c56ba37815ff04eac5398a24e6c)) and I think they've gone from there. Now to try and hunt down No.21!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Klaatu on December 14, 2010, 02:51:39 PM
Hi Albion.

As far as Brian 21 and 22 are concerned, check Youtube - someone has posted both symphonies there (although No 21 is split into four sections.)

Also on Youtube is the 1970s documentary "The Unknown Warrior" which first introduced me to Brian's music in my teenage years. Essential viewing!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Albion on December 15, 2010, 08:08:19 AM
Hi Albion.

As far as Brian 21 and 22 are concerned, check Youtube - someone has posted both symphonies there (although No 21 is split into four sections.)

Also on Youtube is the 1970s documentary "The Unknown Warrior" which first introduced me to Brian's music in my teenage years. Essential viewing!

Thanks again for all these helpful links - I'm planning to have a Havergal Brian Christmas (well, there'll be nothing on the television worth watching), working through as much as I can chronologically, aided by Malcolm Macdonald's three-volume survey. To put out the begging-bowl again, please could anybody help with a recording of the 'Symphonic Poem' Elegy (1954)? It was performed by the BBC Northern SO under Brian Wright in December 1978.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on December 15, 2010, 08:23:41 AM
What we need is a recording of Symphony No 10 by a professional orchestra. The Unicorn CD, which I have is great but I'd love to hear this work done by one of the big London orchestras for example, or the RLPO.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on December 15, 2010, 08:51:35 AM
Thanks again for all these helpful links - I'm planning to have a Havergal Brian Christmas (well, there'll be nothing on the television worth watching), working through as much as I can chronologically, aided by Malcolm Macdonald's three-volume survey. To put out the begging-bowl again, please could anybody help with a recording of the 'Symphonic Poem' Elegy (1954)? It was performed by the BBC Northern SO under Brian Wright in December 1978.

I'll upload Elegy for you. Not immediately though: Mrs.Rock is currently hogging all our bandwidth. I'll try later tonight.

Sarge
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Klaatu on December 15, 2010, 10:00:28 AM
What we need is a recording of Symphony No 10 by a professional orchestra. The Unicorn CD, which I have is great but I'd love to hear this work done by one of the big London orchestras for example, or the RLPO.

Couldn't agree more! The question is, who would conduct? Myer Fredman made a great job of 6 and 16; he'd be a great choice.

Perhaps Dutton Vocalion could be persuaded to produce another of their excellent discs, with a professionally-played Brian 10 alongside 3 or 4 other shortish works by neglected Britons?
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on December 15, 2010, 01:50:40 PM
Here's the link to Elegy

http://rapidshare.com/files/437157389/Brian_Elegy.mp3


Sarge
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on December 15, 2010, 02:47:09 PM
Hello, everyone! It's been a very long time... I'm glad to see people are finding my Brian folder useful. It's strange 'Elegy' has disappeared from the list, because I'm quite sure I uploaded it. Oh well, Sergeant Rock has stepped into the breach... I'm excited at the prospect of the Gothic performance in Brisbane. And I can't wait to see the DVD about the whole saga of getting this piece performed at all.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on December 15, 2010, 03:05:26 PM
Hello, everyone! It's been a very long time... I'm glad to see people are finding my Brian folder useful. It's strange 'Elegy' has disappeared from the list, because I'm quite sure I uploaded it. Oh well, Sergeant Rock has stepped into the breach... I'm excited at the prospect of the Gothic performance in Brisbane. And I can't wait to see the DVD about the whole saga of getting this piece performed at all.

Hey, dude! Great to see you here again. It's been too long. How is the book coming?

Sarge
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on December 15, 2010, 03:16:47 PM
Hi, Sarge! Well, the book's the reason I've disappeared off the radar... What can I tell you - last Saturday was the presentation, in Amsterdam, of a collection of short stories to which I have contributed: my first book publication. The big novel I'm finishing (around 800 pages at the moment) I'm going to publish in two parts. Part 1 will appear next year, part 2 a year later. Several publishers have shown interest. Here is a nice link, where you can see me written about and photographed... http://www.rnw.nl/suriname/article/surinaamse-schrijver-van-nu-durft-meer (http://www.rnw.nl/suriname/article/surinaamse-schrijver-van-nu-durft-meer) There is also an interview (around 4:51 - me).
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on December 15, 2010, 03:31:20 PM
Re Brian's Tenth - there will be a new recording, coupled with the Concerto for Orchestra, to be released by Dutton somewhere in the near future. I'll have to look through my HBS Newsletters to see which orchestra and conductor... Here it is:

"Four three-hour recording sessions for the forthcoming
Dutton disc of Brian’s Symphonies 10 and 30, Concerto
for orchestra and English suite 3 took place at 1000 and
1430 each day on Wednesday 15 and Thursday 16
September.  Martyn Brabbins was conducting the Royal
Scottish National Orchestra."


The recording will be issued first quarter 2011.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Lethevich on December 15, 2010, 10:52:30 PM
Wow, what wonderful news. A few years ago all seemed gloomy on the Brian front, and now suddenly a Gothic reissue, a Gothic performance, various interesting discs appearing or soon to! :)

Also, welcome back Jezetha, and well done on the book - so many people enjoy the idea of writing, but never get around to finishing anything. I see that you have the killer instinct! ;D
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Albion on December 15, 2010, 11:48:05 PM
Here's the link to Elegy

http://rapidshare.com/files/437157389/Brian_Elegy.mp3


Sarge
Sarge, many thanks for this!

Re Brian's Tenth - there will be a new recording, coupled with the Concerto for Orchestra, to be released by Dutton [...] first quarter 2011.

This is fantastic news - can't wait to hear the Concerto. Dutton has advanced in leaps and bounds over the past few years to become the company for interesting British repertoire - as with Lyrita in days of old, it is always exciting to anticipate what will be included in their next set of releases.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on December 16, 2010, 08:29:09 AM
I am celebrating the return of Jezetha (great news about the book - how exciting!) as as  much as the forthcoming CD of Havergal Brian Symphony No 10 on Dutton.  :D
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Luke on December 16, 2010, 09:45:52 AM
Jezetha's return has vastly cheered up a pretty dismal few days! What a sight for sore eyes  :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: karlhenning on December 16, 2010, 09:48:03 AM
Hi, Sarge! Well, the book's the reason I've disappeared off the radar... What can I tell you - last Saturday was the presentation, in Amsterdam, of a collection of short stories to which I have contributed: my first book publication. The big novel I'm finishing (around 800 pages at the moment) I'm going to publish in two parts. Part 1 will appear next year, part 2 a year later. Several publishers have shown interest. Here is a nice link, where you can see me written about and photographed... http://www.rnw.nl/suriname/article/surinaamse-schrijver-van-nu-durft-meer (http://www.rnw.nl/suriname/article/surinaamse-schrijver-van-nu-durft-meer) There is also an interview (around 4:51 - me).

Wait! Why is this buried in the Havergal Brian thread? Are only Brianiacs entitled to the news!? ; )
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on December 16, 2010, 10:06:51 AM
Wait! Why is this buried in the Havergal Brian thread? Are only Brianiacs entitled to the news!? ; )

It's a very select club...you have to prove that you've listened to the entire Gothic at least 12 times before allowed news of Jezetha.

Sarge
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: karlhenning on December 16, 2010, 11:54:55 AM
Don't know if I'm ready for that Rite of Passage . . . .
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Scarpia on December 16, 2010, 12:13:29 PM
It has never seriously occurred to me to listen to a Brian symphony, and I think the reason is simply that there are too many of them.  It seems impossible that the man had enough to say to fill dozens of symphonies, so I am confronted with the task of separating the wheat from the chaff, and it has to be mostly chaff.  I can't summon the enthusiasm for it.  Similar problem with Weinberg. When you read notes to a Weinberg piece it often includes a statement to the effect that "it is unknown if the work was ever performed."  But since I ended up hearing a Weinberg piece more or less by accident and liked it I am over the barrier.


Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: karlhenning on December 16, 2010, 12:18:18 PM
It has never seriously occurred to me to listen to a Brian symphony, and I think the reason is simply that there are too many of them.  It seems impossible that the man had enough to say to fill dozens of symphonies . . . .

Of course you do say seems . . . it's something we could not know without giving it a listen.  And neither have I summoned the will to investigate Brian.  (I'm still feeling a bit disappointed in [relatively] recent sallies into the symphony cycles of Milhaud and Pettersson.)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on December 16, 2010, 12:18:40 PM
It has never seriously occurred to me to listen to a Brian symphony, and I think the reason is simply that there are too many of them.  It seems impossible that the man had enough to say to fill dozens of symphonies, so I am confronted with the task of separating the wheat from the chaff, and it has to be mostly chaff.  I can't summon the enthusiasm for it.

You apply the same argument to avoid listening to Mozart (41 symphonies) or Haydn (104)?

Sarge
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: karlhenning on December 16, 2010, 12:22:32 PM
You apply the same argument to avoid listening to Mozart (41 symphonies) or Haydn (104)?

I shan't answer for Scarps (I cannot), but I'll adopt the question.

I genuinely enjoyed listening to the start of Haydn's cycle (though I lost discipline, and stopped half-way-ish, nor have I taken it back up yet). Personally, I don't think I could make time for the Mozart juvenilia; but I have no quarrel to the man who can.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on December 16, 2010, 12:35:03 PM
Thanks for all the lovely comments! First I'm making coffee and then I'll check this thread to see if there is anything I'd like to add...
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Scarpia on December 16, 2010, 12:39:03 PM
You apply the same argument to avoid listening to Mozart (41 symphonies) or Haydn (104)?

Not quite the same.  Mozart and Haydn were the most well known composers of their era, and their works were widely performed and admired.  If you want to listen to music of that period you start with Mozart and Haydn and it widely known what their principal works are.  In Brian we have someone who toiled away writing symphony after symphony after symphony, 32 in all, without any of it ever being performed.  Presumably whatever original ideas he had were diluted in hours and hours and hours of music.  I imagine compositional diarrhea. 

Beyond that, I have a similar problem with Haydn to some extent.  I have the Dorati cycle, which I am trying to make my way through, but when I am done I don't think I will ever listen to 90% of it again.  The London, Paris, and a few noteworthy early symphonies will serve me.  For Mozart, 41, 40, 39, 38, 35, 34, 33, 32 are interesting, the rest are interchangeable.   


Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on December 16, 2010, 12:46:43 PM
I shan't answer for Scarps (I cannot), but I'll adopt the question.

I genuinely enjoyed listening to the start of Haydn's cycle (though I lost discipline, and stopped half-way-ish, nor have I taken it back up yet). Personally, I don't think I could make time for the Mozart juvenilia; but I have no quarrel to the man who can.


Well, at least you have listened to some symphonies by both composers despite their enormous output. I understand avoiding early Mozart (although I personally find the pre-K.183 symphonies delightful and listen to them often) but Brian began composition on his first symphony, the Gothic, in 1919 when he was 43 years old and finished it eight years later. All his symphonies are works of maturity so Scarps can't use that excuse. And despite the sheer amount of symphonies, choosing a few to sample isn't difficult because only a handful have had truly great performances committed to disc. The EMI twofer (7, 8, 9 and 31) plus the Naxos Gothic will give one a good taste of the composer for very little outlay.

Sarge
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on December 16, 2010, 12:49:43 PM
Presumably whatever original ideas he had were diluted in hours and hours and hours of music.

How can you possibly presume that when you haven't even heard any of his music? The man's creative life lasted nearly 75 years! Compared to Haydn or Bach his output is miniscule.

Sarge
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Scarpia on December 16, 2010, 12:53:06 PM
All his symphonies are works of maturity so Scarps can't use that excuse.

I wasn't aware that I need to provide an excuse for every composer I don't listen to.   ;D
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on December 16, 2010, 12:56:30 PM
I wasn't aware that I need to provide an excuse for every composer I don't listen to.   ;D

Dude, you invaded this thread in a most troll-like manner so you better have an excuse  ;D

Sarge, locking and loading the heavy weapons
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: karlhenning on December 16, 2010, 12:59:56 PM
Well, at least you have listened to some symphonies by both composers despite their enormous output. I understand avoiding early Mozart (although I personally find the pre-K.183 symphonies delightful and listen to them often) but Brian began composition on his first symphony, the Gothic, in 1919 when he was 43 years old and finished it eight years later. All his symphonies are works of maturity so Scarps can't use that excuse. And despite the sheer amount of symphonies, choosing a few to sample isn't difficult because only a handful have had truly great performances committed to disc. The EMI twofer (7, 8, 9 and 31) plus the Naxos Gothic will give one a good taste of the composer for very little outlay.

Thanks, Sarge.  Of course, this composer makes a regular practice of listening to music he's never listened to before . . . so there's no reason not to make that new music Brian at some point.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Scarpia on December 16, 2010, 01:14:13 PM
Dude, you invaded this thread in a most troll-like manner so you better have an excuse  ;D

Sarge, locking and loading the heavy weapons

Yikes!  Well, I did not come with troll-like intentions.  It's not specific to Brian.  Probably 75% of my listening these days is music I have never heard before, but when I see 32 symphonies, I just feel despair.    I might have tried that EMI 2-fer, but it is out of print and scarce.  I will withdraw so you can reestablish an appropriate mood of Brian adulation.

Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on December 16, 2010, 01:15:02 PM
Hello to everyone from a newbie.

Happy memories of the days when I was a member of the HBS. Especially that evening back in - 1990 was it? - when I sat in Birmingham Town Hall to hear the "Orchestra of the Composers' Platform" play Brian's 3rd Symphony. This was memorable partly because of the music, but mainly because it's the only concert I've ever been to where the orchestra significantly outnumbered the audience!

(...)

What a great little work No. 11 is! A deeply thoughtful adagio to kick things off, then a childlike and jovial central movement, and a bustling little march to finish. Fairly lighthearted and easy on the ear for Brian, this could be a nice introduction to his symphonies for the uninitiated.


Hello, Klaatu!


You might have seen me in May 1987 in Birmingham - I was there. I have been a member of the HBS since December 1983. Were you in the hired coach that took all the members from Surrey through London Victoria to B'ham?... As for No. 11, I have a special affection for it, too.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on December 16, 2010, 01:48:51 PM
Just a general and personal intro to Brian for those who might be interested...


Havergal Brian's music is idiosyncratic. It isn't easy listening, it doesn't come pre-packaged with reams of persuasive recommendations by the great and the good. There is no performance tradition to speak of. So, in a sense, you're on your own in evaluating this unusual music, hampered too by (many) readings that only scratch the surface of what this music - when performed really well - can express.


Brian wrote 32 symphonies, from 1919 to 1968. He began in his early forties and ended in his early nineties. This journey is fascinating for those receptive to it. Brian was his own man from an early age, but he did develop. Although the first 4 symphonies are on a grand scale, Brian's way of expressing himself is always very laconic, though intense. There is always a lot going on. He loves polyphony and he likes to keep things moving. His music can sound as of written for some film of the mind. Once you are gripped by it, you are gripped for life.


I know all the symphonies and I know them virtually by heart. If I have to choose 'the best', I get into difficulties, because every single one of them has its own unique moments of power and beauty. But if you want to get an idea of what Brian can do, if you want to get a  sense of his range, try symphonies 6, 8, 10 and 16, written between 1948 and 1960. They are an excellent introduction to his very personal style.


http://www.mediafire.com/file/wijgqyozmjm/Brian%20Symphony%20No.%206%20LPO%20Myer%20Fredman.mp3


http://www.mediafire.com/file/0jf2yvnm2tj/Brian%208.mp3


http://www.mediafire.com/file/xztyigy2wjz/Brian%2010.mp3


http://www.mediafire.com/file/i0uuiz32kjd/Brian%20Symphony%20No.%2016%20LPO%20Myer%20Fredman.mp3
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: karlhenning on December 16, 2010, 01:52:13 PM
. . . I know all the symphonies and I know them virtually by heart.

That is really marvelous!  Only judging by the (from this senator's standpoint) obscurity of the composer and scarcity of recordings.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on December 16, 2010, 01:56:27 PM
That is really marvelous!  Only judging by the (from this senator's standpoint) obscurity of the composer and scarcity of recordings.


Well, every symphony has been performed at least once (many for and by the BBC). The past few months especially, I've had all of the symphonies on my mp3 player to give me inspiration!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Albion on December 16, 2010, 02:28:01 PM
Many thanks to the various members who have provided links and help in obtaining recordings of these great works - please could anybody help with mp3 audio files of:

Symphony 21 (LSO/ Downes, 14/1/69 or LSSO/ Pinkett)

Cello Concerto (Igloi/ Polyphonia/ Boult, 5/2/71)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on December 16, 2010, 02:42:40 PM
Many thanks to the various members who have provided links and help in obtaining recordings of these great works - please could anybody help with mp3 audio files of:

Symphony 21 (LSO/ Downes, 14/1/69 or LSSO/ Pinkett)

Cello Concerto (Igloi/ Polyphonia/ Boult, 5/2/71)


I can offer you #21 (LSSO/Pinkett). Watch this space... I don't have the Cello Concerto, BUT - it has been recorded and will be issued in a few months' time.


http://www.mediafire.com/file/2a4nzk4pz9br4az/Brian%2021-I.mp3


http://www.mediafire.com/file/ruvkmegaqui6xc7/Brian%2021-II.mp3


http://www.mediafire.com/file/ibvij45hg1zh1os/Brian%2021-III.mp3


http://www.mediafire.com/file/b2w9u1ladnc6i9t/Brian%2021-IV.mp3
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on December 16, 2010, 03:12:27 PM
I have just played HB Symphony No 10 (Loughran LSSO) on Unicorn in celebration of both Jezetha's forthcoming book/s and his grand return to the Forum. In his essay on Brian in the Penguin book 'The Symphony; Elgar to the Present Day', Harold Truscott (also the composer of a fine Symphony) wrote of Havergal Brian's 10th symphony that '...the psychological storm that shapes it gives way at length to a mysterious sense of victory, grim and hard-won, but enduring.' A good omen I feel for Jezetha's perseverance.  :)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on December 16, 2010, 03:18:26 PM
Thanks, Jeffrey. It is that quality of dogged perseverance which I have always admired in Brian and which has really inspired me the last 30 years. It will be interesting to see whether I - after completing my 'Gothic' - will also live to a ripe 96, completing another 31 novels in the process!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Klaatu on December 16, 2010, 04:05:27 PM

Hello, Klaatu!


You might have seen me in May 1987 in Birmingham - I was there. I have been a member of the HBS since December 1983. Were you in the hired coach that took all the members from Surrey through London Victoria to B'ham?... As for No. 11, I have a special affection for it, too.

Hi Jezetha!

Nope, I wasn't on the coach - I was living in Birmingham at the time and drove to the gig solo (well, with my mate Phil).

BTW, thanks for alerting me to the forthcoming release of Brian 10 with the RSNO - great news; knew Dutton would come up trumps!

PS Scarpia -
My advice would be to start with the Lyrita reissue of Brian 6 and 16. Simply because I think they're to date the best played versions of any Brian works. Also because they show the composer at his most lyrical (No 6) and his most impenetrable (No 16) - a work which I hated on first hearing but absolutely love now! (You really have to learn your way into this stuff; No 16 is for me one of HB's very greatest works.)

The added bonus is that if you can't stand the Brian pieces the disc also sports a fine performance of Cooke's 3rd!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: karlhenning on December 16, 2010, 04:36:34 PM
Thanks, Jeffrey. It is that quality of dogged perseverance which I have always admired in Brian and which has really inspired me the last 30 years. It will be interesting to see whether I - after completing my 'Gothic' - will also live to a ripe 96, completing another 31 novels in the process!

Many years!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Albion on December 16, 2010, 10:16:21 PM

I can offer you #21 (LSSO/Pinkett). Watch this space... I don't have the Cello Concerto, BUT - it has been recorded and will be issued in a few months' time.

Jezetha, thanks very much for sharing these files - now I can begin systematically listening through the entire canon of 32, headphones clamped to head and Macdonald propped up in front of me! Wonderful news about the Cello Concerto - it looks as though it really is going to be a good year for HB!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Lethevich on December 16, 2010, 11:04:24 PM
@ Scarpia: I feel that Brian is somewhat insulated from unevenness given his personal situation:

1. Almost totally ignored, so he wrote music for himself rather than to make money
2. His symphonies are so numerous a) because they are rather brief, and b) because he wrote little else towards the end, and had the time to spend on them

But either way, you have a way out: Brian wrote his larger symphonies early in his career, and it was in his later works from No.12+ where he began to produce increasingly concise works at a rapid rate. If you want to put those aside for now, it's still easy to explore his output just from that initial dozen or so - nos.6-10 form something of a core, and sadly this does mean that the EMI twofer is an essential purchase. If you have trouble finding it drop me a PM.

The ones Jezetha linked are great choices.

My advice would be to start with the Lyrita reissue of Brian 6 and 16. Simply because I think they're to date the best played versions of any Brian works. Also because they show the composer at his most lyrical (No 6) and his most impenetrable (No 16) - a work which I hated on first hearing but absolutely love now! (You really have to learn your way into this stuff; No 16 is for me one of HB's very greatest works.)

The added bonus is that if you can't stand the Brian pieces the disc also sports a fine performance of Cooke's 3rd!
I can't help but agree with this as well, not only because the two Brian performances on that disc are very well-recorded and played, but also because I love Cooke's 3rd and have blabbed about it endlessly on this forum.

Edit: I think one further way to explain the appeal of the cycle to the converted is its "Lord of the Rings" appeal. Constantly looking for links between the works - debating which form "trilogies" or little integral cycles - generally just exploring the craggy topography is one of the more rewarding classical experiences I've had.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on December 17, 2010, 02:32:31 AM

Edit: I think one further way to explain the appeal of the cycle to the converted is its "Lord of the Rings" appeal. Constantly looking for links between the works - debating which form "trilogies" or little integral cycles - generally just exploring the craggy topography is one of the more rewarding classical experiences I've had.


Spot on! It goes even further than that - the First World War inspired both Tolkien and Brian to their central works - LOTR and The Gothic, monuments to the passing of an age. Brian's work is full of marches, battles and mourning, but also full of sometimes bizarre ideas, humour and visionary vistas. Tolkien and Brian both worked ceaselessly on their respective worlds, two men (both of small stature!) from the English Midlands.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on December 17, 2010, 03:34:42 AM
Thanks, Jeffrey. It is that quality of dogged perseverance which I have always admired in Brian and which has really inspired me the last 30 years. It will be interesting to see whether I - after completing my 'Gothic' - will also live to a ripe 96, completing another 31 novels in the process!

Well, I certainly hope so and I also hope for an English translation too!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Scarpia on December 17, 2010, 06:22:47 AM
@ Scarpia: I feel that Brian is somewhat insulated from unevenness given his personal situation:

1. Almost totally ignored, so he wrote music for himself rather than to make money
2. His symphonies are so numerous a) because they are rather brief, and b) because he wrote little else towards the end, and had the time to spend on them

But either way, you have a way out: Brian wrote his larger symphonies early in his career, and it was in his later works from No.12+ where he began to produce increasingly concise works at a rapid rate. If you want to put those aside for now, it's still easy to explore his output just from that initial dozen or so - nos.6-10 form something of a core, and sadly this does mean that the EMI twofer is an essential purchase. If you have trouble finding it drop me a PM.

The ones Jezetha linked are great choices.
I can't help but agree with this as well, not only because the two Brian performances on that disc are very well-recorded and played, but also because I love Cooke's 3rd and have blabbed about it endlessly on this forum.

Edit: I think one further way to explain the appeal of the cycle to the converted is its "Lord of the Rings" appeal. Constantly looking for links between the works - debating which form "trilogies" or little integral cycles - generally just exploring the craggy topography is one of the more rewarding classical experiences I've had.

Ok, now you've got me curious....
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Hattoff on December 18, 2010, 12:29:07 PM
Good news from the HB website :D They now have free downloads of symphonies Nos 8 & 12, go here:  http://www.havergalbrian.org/download.htm
And, it's good news about the Dutton releases  :D
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on December 18, 2010, 01:05:14 PM
Good news from the HB website :D They now have free downloads of symphonies Nos 8 & 12, go here:  http://www.havergalbrian.org/download.htm (http://www.havergalbrian.org/download.htm)
And, it's good news about the Dutton releases  :D


Hi, Hattoff! It's good hearing from you. And thanks for that link - I had forgotten about those free downloads, because I listened to them some months ago already. The Eighth especially is very interesting. You can never have too many Brian performances...
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Albion on December 19, 2010, 01:22:33 AM
Some rather unexpected but fantastic news -  Havergal Brian's Gothic symphony is being performed at the Proms July 17, 2011 with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales conducted by Martyn Brabbins!  :o ;D :o ;D :o

Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on December 19, 2010, 03:41:59 AM
Some rather unexpected but fantastic news -  Havergal Brian's Gothic symphony is being performed at the Proms July 17, 2011 with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales conducted by Martyn Brabbins!  :o ;D :o ;D :o

Where did you read the news? I checked the RAH site and there are no listings for July yet.

Sarge
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Albion on December 19, 2010, 05:55:52 AM
Where did you read the news? I checked the RAH site and there are no listings for July yet.

Sarge

On the musicweb site, under 'notices': http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2010/DEC10/listing.htm (http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2010/DEC10/listing.htm)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on December 19, 2010, 06:03:23 AM
On the musicweb site, under 'notices': http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2010/DEC10/listing.htm (http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2010/DEC10/listing.htm)

Cool. Do you know when Proms tickets usually go on sale?

Sarge
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Albion on December 19, 2010, 06:13:29 AM
Cool. Do you know when Proms tickets usually go on sale?

Sarge

Usually around the middle of May.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on December 19, 2010, 06:37:13 AM
GMG member Dundonnell - Colin Mackie - just posted the same news on Facebook. There was an enormous explosion here in Delft, when I read it - inside my head!!!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on December 19, 2010, 06:47:38 AM
GMG member Dundonnell - Colin Mackie - just posted the same news on Facebook. There was an enormous explosion here in Delft, when I read it - inside my head!!!

This is tremedous news. I honestly thought I'd never hear the Gothic live.

Sarge
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on December 19, 2010, 06:55:45 AM
This is tremedous news. I honestly thought I'd never hear the Gothic live.

Sarge


Brianites of all countries, unite! You have nothing to lose but some cash!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on December 19, 2010, 07:00:52 AM
Brianites of all countries, unite!

I'm sure all twelve of us will show up  ;D

Sarge
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on December 19, 2010, 07:01:59 AM
I'm sure all twelve of us will show up  ;D

Sarge


 ;D
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Klaatu on December 20, 2010, 02:22:34 AM
THE GOTHIC!! AT THE PROMS!!! NEXT YEAR!!!
 :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o
 ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D
YEEEE-HAAAHHH!!!!!!!!!!

(Recovering composure).....er.......sorry.........um..........yes, well, that's a bit of jolly good news, isn't it?
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on December 20, 2010, 09:26:36 AM
I think I might have finally worked it out!


Hi Albion! I was at the movies with my daughter - the latest Narnia installment... 'The Tigers' uploaded would be terrific! I know it and have it, but only on mouldy tape cassettes... If you encounter any problems, mail me.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on December 20, 2010, 09:28:50 AM
THE GOTHIC!! AT THE PROMS!!! NEXT YEAR!!!
 :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o
 ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D
YEEEE-HAAAHHH!!!!!!!!!!

(Recovering composure).....er.......sorry.........um..........yes, well, that's a bit of jolly good news, isn't it?


Calm down, dear!


{there was an explosion in Delft, too, when news reached me - inside my head!}
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Albion on December 20, 2010, 09:33:53 AM
I've finally managed to upload my transcript of Havergal Brian's The Tigers:

http://www.mediafire.com/?fm6zmepcgdcjb (http://www.mediafire.com/?fm6zmepcgdcjb)

3-8 January 1983 (recording) / 3 May 1983 (broadcast BBC Radio 3)
Teresa Cahill (soprano)  Mrs Freebody/Lady 1
Alison Hargan (soprano)  Columbine/Female in car/Lady Stout
Marilyn Hill-Smith (soprano)  Lady 2/Toy seller
Ameral Gunson (mezzo soprano)  Lady 3
Ann Marie Owens (alto)  Costerwoman/Sweetmeat seller
Paul Crook (tenor)  Artist/Bishop/Clergyman 2/Cook 2
Harry Nicoll (tenor)  Constable 1/Pantalon
John Winfield (tenor)  Coster/Clergyman 1/Cook 1/Old clothes seller
Kenneth Wollam (tenor)  Man on elephant/Man in tweeds
Ian Caddy (baritone)  Coster 1/Gentleman 1/Policeman 1
Malcolm Donnelly (baritone)  Colonel Sir John Stout
Henry Herford (baritone)  Gentleman 2
Alan Opie (baritone)  Clergyman 5/Napoleon/Young man
Alan Watt (baritone)  Coster 3/Clergyman 3/Fruitseller/Policeman 2
Norman Welsby (baritone)  Billposterer/Clergyman 4/Elephant keeper/Man's voice/Police sergeant
Richard Angas (bass-baritone)  Alexander the Great/Crier/Constable 2/Guard/Policeman 3
Eric Shilling (bass-baritone)  Officer/Regimental sergeant major/Voices
Denis Wicks (bass)  Coster 2/Clergyman 6/Red Indian
BBC Singers  The Tigers/Crowds
BBC Symphony Orchestra, conductor Lionel Friend
producer Elaine Padmore
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on December 20, 2010, 09:56:20 AM
Excellent, Albion!!!!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Albion on December 20, 2010, 10:01:47 AM
Excellent, Albion!!!!
Well, given your generosity in sharing your Brian recordings, I figured that one good turn deserves another!  ;D
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Lethevich on December 20, 2010, 10:05:43 AM
Albion, many thanks for your efforts!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on December 20, 2010, 10:11:03 AM
Listening to 'The Tigers' again - the orchestration remains a miracle of inventiveness.


Edit: two great, purely orchestral pieces, are 13.wma and 14.wma in Albion's folder: Gargoyles and Lacryma. They prefigure 'The Gothic'.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Albion on December 20, 2010, 01:32:06 PM
I've finally managed to upload my transcript of Havergal Brian's The Tigers:

http://www.mediafire.com/?fm6zmepcgdcjb (http://www.mediafire.com/?fm6zmepcgdcjb)

3-8 January 1983 (recording) / 3 May 1983 (broadcast BBC Radio 3)
Teresa Cahill (soprano)  Mrs Freebody/Lady 1
Alison Hargan (soprano)  Columbine/Female in car/Lady Stout
Marilyn Hill-Smith (soprano)  Lady 2/Toy seller
Ameral Gunson (mezzo soprano)  Lady 3
Ann Marie Owens (alto)  Costerwoman/Sweetmeat seller
Paul Crook (tenor)  Artist/Bishop/Clergyman 2/Cook 2
Harry Nicoll (tenor)  Constable 1/Pantalon
John Winfield (tenor)  Coster/Clergyman 1/Cook 1/Old clothes seller
Kenneth Wollam (tenor)  Man on elephant/Man in tweeds
Ian Caddy (baritone)  Coster 1/Gentleman 1/Policeman 1
Malcolm Donnelly (baritone)  Colonel Sir John Stout
Henry Herford (baritone)  Gentleman 2
Alan Opie (baritone)  Clergyman 5/Napoleon/Young man
Alan Watt (baritone)  Coster 3/Clergyman 3/Fruitseller/Policeman 2
Norman Welsby (baritone)  Billposterer/Clergyman 4/Elephant keeper/Man's voice/Police sergeant
Richard Angas (bass-baritone)  Alexander the Great/Crier/Constable 2/Guard/Policeman 3
Eric Shilling (bass-baritone)  Officer/Regimental sergeant major/Voices
Denis Wicks (bass)  Coster 2/Clergyman 6/Red Indian
BBC Singers  The Tigers/Crowds
BBC Symphony Orchestra, conductor Lionel Friend
producer Elaine Padmore


As a supplement to the above, there are the six separate movements that Brian orchestrated during 1921-22 before completing the full score of the opera in 1929 (Luxembourg Radio SO/ Leopold Hager, 1981):

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Havergal-Brian-Orchestral-Pieces-Tigers/dp/B001UJOZGA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1298909447&sr=8-1 (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Havergal-Brian-Orchestral-Pieces-Tigers/dp/B001UJOZGA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1298909447&sr=8-1)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on December 20, 2010, 02:25:34 PM
Here an article about the coming Brisbane performance of the 'Gothic', culled from the pages of the HBS Newsletter I just received: http://bit.ly/hxHP02  (http://bit.ly/hxHP02)


Albion, you made my day! Those performances of the 'Tigers' Suite are really first rate. Thank you!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Brian on December 20, 2010, 02:43:44 PM
I'm sure all twelve of us will show up  ;D

Sarge

This reminds me of Dave Hurwitz' old review of the Naxos Gothic (http://www.classicstoday.com/review.asp?ReviewNum=8010)...
Quote
How vividly I remember the initial release of this set on Marco Polo some 15 years ago. There I was, clutching my copy of this legendary work having suffered previously through the hideous sound of a pirate issue of Boult's performance. Standing in line before me at Tower Records, Lincoln Center, was the New York chapter of the Havergal Brian Society. There were about 10 of them, average age about 70, men with bald scalps and lanky shoulder-length white hair hanging limply in the latest Benjamin Franklin style. All wore thick glasses, and a few had conditions that I thought had been cured by the turn of the last century: goiters, a harelip or two, and various poxes and skin diseases. None had credit cards, or a majority of their teeth, but most had, to put in kindly, olfactorily obvious personal hygiene issues.

"Gothic indeed," I thought, putting down my copy and deciding to try mail order. "If this is the core market for this composer, Marco Polo's projected complete cycle is in trouble."

Postscript: the cycle did eventually die, but the Gothic Symphony was, in fact, the best-selling CD in Marco Polo history. (http://www.havergalbrian.org/marcopolo.htm)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on December 20, 2010, 02:50:55 PM
I'll remember to wash.  ;)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on December 20, 2010, 03:38:08 PM
I've finally managed to upload my transcript of Havergal Brian's The Tigers:

Fantastic! Thank you very much. This is turning out to be a great week for Brianites  8)

Sarge
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on December 20, 2010, 03:39:27 PM
the best-selling CD in Marco Polo history. (http://www.havergalbrian.org/marcopolo.htm)

Well, that explains why the Brian cycle bogged down and was abandoned. Sad.

Sarge
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on December 20, 2010, 03:41:20 PM
I'll remember to wash.  ;)

I'll bathe...relunctantly (I am retired, you know!) but I refuse to cut my shoulder length white hair!

Sarge
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on December 20, 2010, 04:01:43 PM
I'll bathe...relunctantly (I am retired, you know!) but I refuse to cut my shoulder length white hair!

Sarge
Your white mane will be very distinguished-looking, I don't doubt...


The Musicweb news about the Proms 'Gothic' has been qualified by this statement:


(The veracity of this information may be in doubt. Roger Wright of the BBC refuses to confirm or deny as all information is embargoed until April.)


Even the HBS Committee doesn't seem to know, nor does Malcolm Macdonald say anything (on Facebook, where he's my 'friend'). I think they know, but are obliged to leave the initiative of the formal announcement to the BBC.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Albion on December 20, 2010, 11:33:00 PM

The Musicweb news about the Proms 'Gothic' has been qualified by this statement:


(The veracity of this information may be in doubt. Roger Wright of the BBC refuses to confirm or deny as all information is embargoed until April.)


Even the HBS Committee doesn't seem to know, nor does Malcolm Macdonald say anything (on Facebook, where he's my 'friend'). I think they know, but are obliged to leave the initiative of the formal announcement to the BBC.

That's fair enough, I suppose! I've already cancelled all other engagements on and around the sacred date so if it doesn't go ahead I'll be heading straight down to South Kensington, where I'll be hiring the largest stage amplification that can be found, and with which I'll be blasting the eardrums of the audience (queueing to hear Beethoven's Choral Symphony) on 17th July with Ondrej Lenard's recording of The Gothic!  ;)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Hattoff on December 21, 2010, 03:27:02 AM
Many thanks to Albion. I used to have the Tigers on cassette but it deteriorated badly before I could transfer it to CD. The sound quality of the download is surprisingly good :D.
And, hi to Johan.
Steve
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on December 21, 2010, 03:30:13 AM
Many thanks to Albion. I used to have the Tigers on cassette but it deteriorated badly before I could transfer it to CD. The sound quality of the download is surprisingly good :D .
And, hi to Johan.
Steve


Hi, Steve! How's your Dover/Deal book going?
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Hattoff on December 21, 2010, 05:32:12 AM
Hi Johan,
The book came out in the Summer. Look here if you're interested in english beer.
http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=The+old+pubs+of+deal+and+walmer&x=24&y=24

I am currently working on the newly rediscovered 5 popular songs of Kazakhstan by Prokofiev.

I am pleased to see that your writing is going well. Do you have a link to the short stories?

I am listening to the Tigers right now, I had forgotton how good it was. It is a struggle at first to understand Brian but when you do, you are repaid a thousandfold.
steven
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Albion on December 21, 2010, 08:07:32 PM
The sound quality of the download is surprisingly good :D.

By some miracle, my tapes managed to survive more or less intact (apart from a tiny bit of echo and some distortion) long enough to make it into the CD-transfer age!

Listening to The Tigers, it has always struck me that Brian must have been aware of the Dada movement, at it's peak between 1916 and 1922, and not only by the anti-war stance that both represent. He produced an unprecedented absurdist anti-opera in which, despite some pseudo-heroic posturing by the Colonel, nothing really happens at all. Characters speak in everyday language, others appear only to disappear again, and then there is the peculiarity of that huge dream-like Prologue which completely dwarfs the tiny first act proper (in itself, the Prologue is perhaps one of the most startlingly original things that even Brian created - one of my favourite moments is when Pantalon says of his supposed rival for Columbine's affections "I'll hit him with a carrot").

What is really needed is a full and luxuriously-presented commercial release of this wonderful performance - one of the best and most enterprising that the BBC has ever initiated. We may never see it staged, but then perhaps the visual element is best left to the imagination anyway!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on December 22, 2010, 12:50:35 PM
Courtesy of your good self, Albion, I listened to the whole of 'The Tigers' again yesterday. Whether the 'opera' is successful as an opera is a moot point. What is most striking is the dream logic that informs everything. And the music that follows from that is Brian at his most mercurial and original. I can see him 'working through', in a satirical fashion, World War 1, but also his failed first marriage. Colonel Sir John Stout is for me the protagonist of the opera, not the eponymous regiment. I wonder whether his delusions of grandeur - dreaming about Alexander and Napoleon, amongst others - isn't Brian poking fun at himself at this point in his career when he definitively became a great composer. Your point about Dada is interesting. But I think Brian's satire is intensely English and draws its inspiration from the music hall, Dickens, Hogarth et al. Brian, with his working-class background, takes a swipe at the British class system. He 'hides' in a colonel, who is unhappily married, feels old, and senses a new beginning in the outrageous(ly funny) Pamela Freebody (a very speaking name, that!) His decision, in Act Three, to meet her again tomorrow is - I discovered yesterday - the central decision of the whole opera. After that the music descends into comic pandemonium, as a precursor of the social opprobrium that the colonel's decision will cause him, like it did Brian (who fell in love with the maid, whom he later married, and was divorced by his first wife).


That's my new understanding of 'The Tigers'. For which I have to thank you (indirectly)!


P.S. What Dutton did with 'The Gothic', they might do with 'The Tigers'...
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Albion on December 23, 2010, 01:31:40 AM
Whether the 'opera' is successful as an opera is a moot point. What is most striking is the dream logic that informs everything. And the music that follows from that is Brian at his most mercurial and original. I can see him 'working through', in a satirical fashion, World War 1, but also his failed first marriage. Colonel Sir John Stout is for me the protagonist of the opera, not the eponymous regiment. I wonder whether his delusions of grandeur - dreaming about Alexander and Napoleon, amongst others - isn't Brian poking fun at himself at this point in his career when he definitively became a great composer. Your point about Dada is interesting. But I think Brian's satire is intensely English and draws its inspiration from the music hall, Dickens, Hogarth et al. Brian, with his working-class background, takes a swipe at the British class system. He 'hides' in a colonel, who is unhappily married, feels old, and senses a new beginning in the outrageous(ly funny) Pamela Freebody (a very speaking name, that!) His decision, in Act Three, to meet her again tomorrow is - I discovered yesterday - the central decision of the whole opera. After that the music descends into comic pandemonium, as a precursor of the social opprobrium that the colonel's decision will cause him, like it did Brian (who fell in love with the maid, whom he later married, and was divorced by his first wife).

Some fascinating points. I'm sure you're quite right in seeing much of the 'action' in The Tigers as autobiographical, based either on Brian's frustration with incompetence or frustration with his domestic situation. Regarding the link to Dada, with it's irreverent and surreal 'de-bunking' of art, Brian was perhaps simply a kindred spirit - certainly there is no precedent in British opera for the character or style of his libretto.

Music Hall does play a huge part in The Tigers - from the structuring of an elaborate set of Symphonic Variations on the throw-away song Has anybody here seen Kelly? to a general sense that the regiment are the very embodiment of Fred Karno's Army:

"We are Fred Karno's army,
Fred Karno's infantry;
We cannot fight, we cannot shoot,
So what damn good are we?
But when we get to Berlin
The Kaiser he will say
Hoch, hoch, mein Gott
Vot a bloody fine lot
Fred Karno's infantry."

Perhaps also important is the vivid nature of Brian's own dreams, and the fact that he seems to have been able to recall them in minute detail. Writing to Bantock during the composition of the opera he recounted

"You entered into my dreams this afternoon. Whether it is the medicine or the 'flu I don't know, but I am half asleep and it is always the same when I have had a bad dose of it. But I was at your place at Broadmeadow: from the way I walked about I seemed to own it. I was going up a wide staircase and met the Colonel [H. Orsmond Anderton, friend and biographer of Bantock] coming down in a dressing gown, hair standing straight. I was frightened by his looks. As he passed me he hissed: 'I'm going to have a seesaw on the viola.' I noted the time. An hour afterwards I met you and asked, 'Where's the bathroom?' You pointed to the door and I found it locked. You said: 'Kick it.' I did, and the door slowly opened and the Colonel passed out just as before, in dressing gown and straight hair. I noticed there was a lot of water on the floor. Also there were three large taps. The middle one seemed to have been in use most, so I put my mouth to it and turned the tap [...] I told you what I had done; that I had been drinking water with my mouth to the tap, and the middle tap. You shouted: 'Why, that's the house water!' I shouted: 'O Christ! What makes me feel so drunk?' You said: 'It may be the pitch from the roof or the poison from the leaves in the water.' I then turned on the middle tap, and feathers and leaves flew out. I turned sick as I thought of the rubbish in my stomach. You grew alarmed and went on the roof. Coming down, you said to me seriously, 'It's a dead peacock'. You armed me down the stairs and we passed the Colonel just outside his door - still in his dressing gown and straight hair, addressing an imaginary crowd. He heeded us not but went on addressing the unseen, his hands and arms going, and emphasizing:

I knew he was sold to the devil.
He must be his brother or his heir.
Drunk on this and drunk on that -
He was always drunk.
Now he is drunk on a dead peacock.

And he repeated the word many times, as though caressing it: 'Peacock! Peacock! Peacock!'
Then I awoke. Through the window I saw a sparrow pinching my seeds."
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Klaatu on December 23, 2010, 01:59:24 PM

Calm down, dear!


Yes.....it's only a commercial......
I do apologise; I was quite overcome!

At your suggestion, Jezetha, I've just listened to "Gargoyles" from The Tigers for the first time (MANY thanks for the link, Albion!) and......wow! There's the prototype of the xylophone-led "storm" from the climax of the Gothic's tremendous third movement - AND just listen to the concluding bars of this piece; that's surely the prototype for the magical ending of Symphony No 10!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on December 23, 2010, 03:33:47 PM
@ Albion I think you culled that dream from the pages of the HBS Newsletter. I remember they ran a series, a long time ago, about the Bantock-Brian correspondence. I had forgotten this particular jewel. That Brian had a fecund imagination, bordering on the weird, is very clear!

@ Klaatu 'The Tigers' and the 'Gothic' complement each other. They are the twin products of Brian's earliest maturity as a composer and they both inhabit a very special sphere of feeling, which I don't encounter in any of his later works. Which is not to say the later works are lesser, just different, more circumscribed, perhaps. 'The Tigers' and the 'Gothic' give me a  sense of timeless and boundless exploration. Anything can happen, the music could go on forever.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Albion on December 24, 2010, 12:46:41 AM
@ Albion I think you you culled that dream from the pages of the HBS Newsletter. I remember they ran a series, a long time ago, about the Bantock-Brian correspondence. I had forgotten this particular jewel. That Brian had a fecund imagination, bordering on the weird, is very clear!

It actually came from Reginald Nettel's Ordeal by Music: The Strange Experience of Havergal Brian (OUP, 1945, the first version of the biography expanded in 1976) which I've just been re-reading. Whenever I reach the final chapter of Ordeal, entitled The Last Phase it gives me something of a thrill to imagine the unprecedented and unexpected torrent of music that Brian was shortly to begin unleashing. It also brings home the tragedy of the loss of so many important full scores, especially By the Waters of Babylon (1903), The Vision of Cleopatra (1907) and Prometheus Unbound (1944).
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on December 24, 2010, 01:24:50 AM
Nettel? OK. I read his book a very very long time ago! I remember having the same feeling when I came to the end of the original version. A book that was meant to be a study of an old and forgotten composer, turned out to be only about part of his career!

Here, by the way, are our friends in Brisbane at a 'Gothic' rehearsal - the climax of the Vivace (I don't know how to embed this):


http://www.youtube.com/v/Cl8KwnOmJJA (http://www.youtube.com/v/Cl8KwnOmJJA)

EDIT: Philip Legge says, on Facebook, he "is sorry to have to make the rehearsal samples private, but I acknowledge the need to have these embargoed".

Blast!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Albion on December 24, 2010, 01:36:45 AM
Here, by the way, are our friends in Brisbane at a 'Gothic' rehearsal - the climax of the Vivace

Many thanks for this link - what a thrill it must be to be part of such a performance - they clearly do have a Xylophone player who is up to the task!

It makes me all the more frenetically excited at the (hopeful) prospect of a Proms outing in July (the first I'll have attended in years)!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on December 24, 2010, 01:39:34 AM
Then you'll be frenetically excited the coming months... [it's a cert, don't tell anyone]

Here the opening of the Allegro assai:

http://www.youtube.com/user/phi1ip2#p/a/u/0/lZc5lTCHqek (http://www.youtube.com/user/phi1ip2#p/a/u/0/lZc5lTCHqek)

EDIT: Philip Legge says, on Facebook, he "is sorry to have to make the rehearsal samples private, but I acknowledge the need to have these embargoed".
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Albion on December 24, 2010, 01:59:06 AM
Then you'll be frenetically excited the coming months... [it's a cert, don't tell anyone]

I'll try to contain my frenzy - wouldn't want to keel over with a coronary before the big day!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Lethevich on December 24, 2010, 02:54:49 AM
Here the opening of the Allegro assai:

http://www.youtube.com/user/phi1ip2#p/a/u/0/lZc5lTCHqek
Ooh, there's magic happening there! :)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on December 24, 2010, 03:47:37 AM
(http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5130/5287158724_fb4aed6881.jpg)

"Just as the audience started to file in, I snuck over to the highest row of the choral stands up the back of the hall." (taken from a Justin Harrison on Facebook)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Luke on December 24, 2010, 04:25:51 AM
Spellbound by all this, guys...those youtube clips send shivers down me!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on December 24, 2010, 04:30:12 AM
Spellbound by all this, guys...those youtube clips send shivers down me!

Malcolm MacDonald (who was guest of honour) wrote on Facebook something along the lines of 'this orchestra is up for anything'. And it is. Bass soloist Philip Legge told me (also on FB) that the dress rehearsal went even better (he was off stage at the performance).
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Luke on December 24, 2010, 04:31:53 AM
I could watch that ginger-afroed xylophonist dude hitting all the right notes all day long!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on December 24, 2010, 04:35:01 AM
I could watch that ginger-afroed xylophonist dude hitting all the right notes all day long!

Yes, he's incredible! There is hope for the human race after all.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Luke on December 24, 2010, 10:33:06 AM
Just back from a long drive across the snowy nighttime wastes of East Anglia. A Gothic-length drive, in fact....the Lenard one, this time. Reeling, still, some thoughts (nothing new here):

1) what an ungrateful bunch we can turn into sometimes, carping at this recording's flaws and forgetting its glories! As I listened to the symphony I was struck with renewed admiration for the work of Lenard and co here, despite fluffs such as the xylophonist makes (see below).... the orchestral commitment and lack of fear is extraordinary in Part I, and as the chorus take centre stage in Part II with those gutsy, oceanic convulsions of praise, throwing themselves into every melismatic paean with such gusto, I can forgive anything. We tend to take this recording for granted now, I think, having lived with it so long, and the Boult , easily available now in a way it wasn't when the Lenard appeared, is often preferred - for its historical importance as well as its musical qualities and the unmistakable, unrepeatable atmosphere of that recording. But note-wise, tuning-wise and so on, the Boult is less accurate than the Lenard, it has to be said...

2) It has to be realised, I think, that this piece will always be well-nigh impossible to record in a wholly acceptable way, just for logistical reasons - with the volume up full blast, I was aware of constant page-turning, for example, because with that many musicians in one space, someone, somewhere, will always be flicking over to the next side! And there's the problem of the large space itself, the echo, the time-lag. Though I think that these factors actually can be heard as part of the piece themselves, and to me part of the sound of The Gothic is that resonant noise of an expanded violin section, multiply divided, playing high and strong in a large space - there's nothing else like it.

3) re that poor xylophonist, let's remember a) that this must be by some distance the hardest and most exposed xylophone solo in classical music, tonal classical at any rate; b) the mistakes are obvious because the solo is composed of arpeggios and scales which reveal mistakes cruelly; c) actually there aren't that many mistakes, really, they are just exposed and d) cut the guy some slack, he's giving everything to the cause, and that is much more in tune with the spirit of the piece than mere accurate note bashing - "Whoever strives with all his might, That man we can redeem" and all that!  ;D

4) Listening again, I find myself once more able to agree with Malcolm Macdonald's assessment of the 1st movement as the weakest, structurally speaking....in theory. I can see the logic. But in practice, I have never felt this movement less than utterly compelling from first to last, structurally very clear, the drastic divisions between sections, which MM thinks go too far, seem to me to be just right, to be pillars - an architectural image he and others use all the time about this piece - that open the movement up like a gateway, saying, 'here are the extremes between which we will explore'. The two haunting, suspended violin soli statements of the second subject, in the exposition and the recap, those moments of ultra-sweet beauty that MM and others fear are too beautiful, are to me islands of such sweetness that they lodge in the memory and provide little glowing moments of structural pointing. I love this movement wholeheartedly, I love its tone - from the first note, the moods might shift dramatically, but the tone is unified, shades of granitic gray, but with an interior sweetness and glow, like a candlight procession through a darkened cathedral (hackneyed image, but still...)

5) the architecture of this piece is just so splendid, the long term shaping that takes the listener on a journey not from Dark to Light, or some such, but a complicated, doubting quest from darkness through mystery, fantasy, conventional jubilation, fear, anguish, hope....it's so marvellously achieved in every way, tonally, motivically,  orchestrally....

6) I know every single note of this piece by heart, every tiniest gesture and resonance - I'm not alone in this, there are many of us even just on GMG who can say the same, it's not a quality of mine, it's a quality of the music. Given its nature as a piece of extraordinary size and length, I think this fact is significant (it's not something I can say of many other comparable pieces which I have listened to at least as much - as Mahler 8, say). It tells me that piece was composed as a unity, despite the scale and the time-frame of composition. Which leads me to...

7) MM thinks the world of The Gothic, clearly, and also thinks that it is something of a special case, set aside from the rest of Brian's work. He's right, of course. He also thinks that it is HB's most important work, his crucial work, his greatest piece.....but not, necessarily, his best piece. Well, I understand this totally, and confronted with symphonies of an even greater maturity and in which the Brian style is more completely there, with no intrusions from elsewhere - things like number 6, 7, 8, which I think is one of the finest symphonies of the century, 16, 27.... - it's hard to say that they are of lesser quality than The Gothic. But, in the final analysis, forgetting musical details, I think The Gothic is HB's finest piece, for the reasons MM says, and also because it is so terrifically inspired, from first note to last. That kind of thing cannot be faked and survives even 'flaws' in the notes themselves - the work burns with intensity for its entire duration, never slacking, and I know of no other piece on this scale or of this rare genre-busting type that does that. Schoenberg tried with Jakobsleiter - and he couldn't sustain it, the piece remained unfinished.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: karlhenning on December 24, 2010, 10:45:21 AM
Thank you, and merry Christmas, Luke!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Luke on December 24, 2010, 10:45:52 AM
The same to you, Mr H!  :)  :)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on December 24, 2010, 11:15:15 AM
Hi, Luke! Wonderful piece! I was just writing an extended post, when I did something stupid and lost the whole thing... But rest assured - I'll write a reaction to your ideas, assessments and insights. First I'm making coffee... One other thing - I'd like to send your thoughts to MM (with your consent, of course). He should know them. It would be interesting to see whether he has changed his views about the opening movement at all since 1974, when vol. 1 came out... It's a pity you're not a member of the HBS. You could reinvigorate the pages of the Newsletter!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Klaatu on December 24, 2010, 01:07:11 PM

the tone is unified, shades of granitic gray, but with an interior sweetness and glow, like a candlight procession through a darkened cathedral

One of the joys of perusing this forum is to come across a simile of such aptness that it really enhances the music. Hats off to you, Luke; that's a wonderful gothic-cathedral image - scraps of melody resembling little flickers of golden light across a great immensity of granitic grey. Perhaps a metaphor for the mediaeval age of cathedral-building, with its artistic glories burning like a guttering flame against the darkness - perhaps a metaphor for Brian's time (and our own).

Gosh, it's Christmas Eve, I've had a drop too much port and I'm waxing lyrical..............

Merry Christmas to one and all!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on December 24, 2010, 02:02:35 PM
Merry Christmas to one and all!
Seconded.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Luke on December 24, 2010, 02:46:41 PM
Thirded, and thanks both!

J, I don't mind you sending Malcolm Macdonald anything you like - only, that isn't much of a thought of mine, and there's no detailed rationale for it at all, as there is behind every word that he writes about Brian. It's merely my own response to the piece, and moreover, one which is probably conditioned by a hefty dose of imprinting, as I listened to this piece so often as a teenager - this movement more than any other, no doubt, due do the sort of 'Luke, stop listening to that racket and come down to dinner' interruption that is common to teenage boys  ;D It's simply that I love this movement, and never felt the total stasis of the second subject, its suddenness, or its extreme beauty, to be a problem, even though I can see perfectly well that, as MM says, to stop dead like that after only a few bars of such a momentum-fuelled opening to such a mammoth work causes troubling formal issues. To me there is one - the muscular D minor opening, kinesis - and the other - the lyrical, vocal D flat music, stasis (reminds me of Tippett's division of musical types, that....). Placed in opposition straightaway although, somehow, as I suggested, sharing the same tone...perhaps that's something acoustic, even, the echoes of the first fading into the second, so that the two do not jar, for me, at all.... At any rate, it's never troubled me, it's just seemed to me like the composer setting out his terms straightaway. The D flat major of the second subject is as drastic a step down, flatwards, as one can get, all wrong at this juncture, in classical terms, but it also = C# and is thus related to E major. When the melody is recapitulated it is in exactly those tonal regions, and we all know where E ends up in this symphony.... And so right at the start we find the seeds of something which will end the symphony.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on December 24, 2010, 03:18:49 PM
I never had any problems with the opening movement, either. MM's first volume preceded my experience of Brian's symphonies. I read his book in 1977, and was already a convert before I got to know the 8th and 9th a year later... The Boult 'Gothic' I only heard in 1982 (iirc) and MM's strictures certainly coloured my listening. The first movement seems 'smaller' than its two successors, and it is also 'simpler' in its binary character of a stark opposition of themes. It also lacks the goal of a real climax. But in its unresolved tension you can sense - half almost beyond the notes, because the music seems to draw its sustenance and materials from some sort of 'atmosphere' Brian inhabited for 8 years, which gives the whole giant work its deep unity -, but you can sense that this movement puts the pieces of the edifice into place. Put differently, this Allegro assai works like a mighty curtain-raiser for the big drama that will begin.

On the issue of the 'Gothic' being Brian's greatest work - perhaps. A lot of his oeuvre is still uncharted territory. What I heard of his opera 'Faust', for instance, belongs to his best music. (Toccata has recorded a CD of orchestral music from Brian's operas 'Turandot' and 'Faust', release date yet to be announced.) But as long as we don't have a complete view, I'll gladly consider the 'Gothic' his biggest masterpiece. It is, as you say, supremely inspired. You enter into the furnace of creativity itself.

I'll see what I'll do then, with your post... But your critique of MM's criticism is good (combined with the added remarks). I suddenly remember there is an analysis by Lionel Pike of the tonal structure of the 'Gothic'. He also sees that connection between the C# and the E with which the symphony ends...

Nuff said. It's late!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Wanderer on December 26, 2010, 01:49:26 AM
Toccata has recorded a CD of orchestral music from Brian's operas 'Turandot' and 'Faust', release date yet to be announced.

I'll be awaiting that with much interest. Thanks for the heads-up!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Albion on December 26, 2010, 04:32:45 AM
Here are some details regarding the eagerly-awaited first volume of Toccata's marvellous Havergal Brian initiative:

http://www.toccataclassics.com/cddetail.php?CN=TOCC0110 (http://www.toccataclassics.com/cddetail.php?CN=TOCC0110)

With a release date of 17th February, this should coincide with another exciting new disc from Dutton (Symphonies 10 & 30, Concerto for Orchestra and English Suite No.3).

The second Toccata volume is due to contain orchestral extracts from the operas - Symphonic Variations (The Tigers), Preludio Tragico (The Cenci), Nine movements (Turandot); Night Ride of Faust and Mephistopheles (Faust)

What a great year in prospect!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on December 26, 2010, 04:43:06 AM
What a great year in prospect!

I hadn't thought of looking there lately. Thanks! The Brian year 2011, indeed! I hope all the new releases and the 'Gothic' performance will help Brian reach 'critical mass' again, to initiate a new Brian 'Renaissance'...
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Lethevich on December 26, 2010, 06:39:21 AM
Thank you for the link - another immediate buy upon release. I was wondering, has anybody used Toccata's Discovery Club (http://www.toccataclassics.com/discoveryclub.php)? It might be worth it just for the two Brian volumes if the second is released within a year of the first, and there are more than a few interesting books too.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Guido on December 26, 2010, 02:37:17 PM
Just listened to the Gothic all the way through for the first time. I am floored. Just floored.

Thanks guys for bringing it to my attention again!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on December 26, 2010, 02:42:57 PM
Just listened to the Gothic all the way through for the first time. I am floored. Just floored.

Thanks guys for bringing it to my attention again!

The Old Man will be grateful. And now pick yourself up!  ;)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on December 26, 2010, 02:48:00 PM
Re the three Brisbane vids that are now under embargo - Philip Legge, the uploader (and bass soloist at the performance), says 'the documentary' told him to make them private, i.e. a lady called Veronica Fury who has been making a docu about the whole undertaking the last few years ('The Curse of the Gothic'). But the clips will come back in due course.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Luke on December 26, 2010, 03:19:47 PM
Doesn't sound like a woman to be crossed, Ms Fury....
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on December 26, 2010, 03:33:39 PM
Hell hath no fury like a Fury scorned...

For the Brian diehards - an interview with Toccata Press & Classics boss Martin Anderson about the 'Gothic':

http://www.mediafire.com/file/47u9gbs5gxsy1t4/Interview%20with%20Martin%20Anderson%20about%20Brian%27s%20Gothic.mp3

Martin gets three facts slightly wrong: Brian wrote the 'Gothic' between 1919 and 1927 (not '26); it was Sir Henry Wood, not Sir Thomas Beecham, who suggested to Brian he write a symphony for an orchestra complete in every department; and it was Lichfield Cathedral that was a main inspiration behind the 'Gothic' of the title, not Winchester Cathedral.

And for those who might have missed it, here again a link to an interview with Brian himself, conducted in 1968 by Robert Simpson and Jeffrey Anderson from CBC:

http://www.mediafire.com/file/2nmmhklof2f/Havergal%20Brian%20interview.mp3
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on December 27, 2010, 06:15:14 AM
Another radio clip from the land of Oz, featuring Alison Rogers, the choir master, and Gary Thorpe, the moving spirit behind the whole venture of mounting the 'Gothic' in Brisbane:

http://www.mediafire.com/file/26bdklvr2t73ded/Alison%20Rogers%20and%20Gary%20Thorpe%20about%20the%20Gothic.mp3
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on December 27, 2010, 10:40:24 AM
Two reviews. Whether (some of) the criticism is well-founded, I can only say when I have heard the actual performance...

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/arts/sleeping-juggernaut-comes-to-life-with-a-mighty-concerted-effort/story-e6frg8n6-1225976789146

http://www.couriermail.com.au/ipad/review-havergal-brians-symphony-no1/story-fn6ck8la-1225976720044
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: karlhenning on December 27, 2010, 10:45:59 AM
My dear Johan, I don't believe I could ever become a Brianiac to rival you. Fear not! : )
 
Just got e-mail alerting me that my copy of the Gothic has been shipped.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on December 27, 2010, 10:50:17 AM
My dear Johan, I don't believe I could ever become a Brianiac to rival you. Fear not! : )

I don't think so, either. My addiction started more than 30 years ago...  ;)
 
Quote
Just got e-mail alerting me that my copy of the Gothic has been shipped.

OK. Look for that spire on the horizon, slowly approaching...

Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Monty Cello on December 28, 2010, 04:24:40 AM
G'day. I am new to this particular forum, which I found by searching for Brian's The Tigers on the Internet. My search was caused by my mislaying my own recordings of both the initial broadcast of the BBC Radio 3 production of 1984, and its later rebroadcast. So, many thanks to Albion for his efforts in posting those wma files. By a stroke of good fortune I have here files derived from a DAT, made at the right end of the broadcast chain, of the Schmidt performance of The Gothic. I would rather not post links to them openly. However, anyone interested might like to contact me via the personal messaging system here. What a pity, by the way, that the Testament issue of the Boult performance derives from the 'wrong' end of the broadcast chain. The peak at around 19kHz is a dead give-away, as is the restricted frequency range of the musical content.  :(
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on December 28, 2010, 09:18:10 AM
Welcome, Monty Cello! Great to have another Brianite on board. Interesting what you say about the Testament 'Gothic'. You mean, they didn't use a 'master tape'?
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Monty Cello on December 28, 2010, 02:31:49 PM
Hi Jezetha,

No, they certainly didn't. I have it on fairly reliable authority that there is a 7.5ips reel to reel of the broadcast in the BBC archive, but either that was donated by a listener, or it was too degraded to be used for the Testament issue. I was a bit taken aback on first listening to the Testament CDs, they just did not sound significantly better than my own reel-to-reel from FM, so I ripped them, used Sound Forge to carry out a spectral analysis, and all was revealed. I can think of no other reason for the isolated peak around 19kHz, or the cut off of the rest of the audio at around 15kHz.

[By the way, re. the Brabbins Gothic at next year's Proms. Confirmation has been received from several of the performers due to participate.]
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on December 28, 2010, 02:38:05 PM
Hm, that's not good. My introduction to the 'Gothic' was through the Aries pirated recording, which wasn't that bad - very open sound, quite spectacular. You confirrn by spectral analysis what was bugging me subliminally about the Testament CDs - that, as you say, the gain didn't seem all that striking. Well, now we know why... Pity.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: karlhenning on December 28, 2010, 02:50:31 PM
Welcome, Monty!

You from Charlottesville?
; )
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on December 28, 2010, 03:00:04 PM
[By the way, re. the Brabbins Gothic at next year's Proms. Confirmation has been received from several of the performers due to participate.]

The game's afoot, then! [I know it from another source... You are well-informed, too!]
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Brian on December 28, 2010, 03:03:51 PM
Now, the two of you need to use your Brianite influence to persuade someone (Hyperion?) to release a recording of the upcoming Proms concert...  ;)

P.S. At any rate it should be posted by the BBC in glorious high-def on YouTube and thus immortalized?
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Monty Cello on December 28, 2010, 03:15:51 PM
Welcome, Monty!

You from Charlottesville?
; )

Heh, heh. No, my moniker is just a little word play on my Welsh forename (though I am not actually Welsh).
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Guido on December 28, 2010, 03:44:01 PM

[By the way, re. the Brabbins Gothic at next year's Proms. Confirmation has been received from several of the performers due to participate.]

I smell a GMG in-person meeting!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on December 28, 2010, 03:46:01 PM
I smell a GMG in-person meeting!

Nothing wrong with your nose...
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Monty Cello on December 28, 2010, 05:05:40 PM
Doesn't sound like a woman to be crossed, Ms Fury....

Luke, your personal message box is full. I have a message waiting to be sent, but I can't successfully send it until you make room for it.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on December 29, 2010, 12:50:23 AM
Another view from the Brisbane 'Gothic'...
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Monty Cello on December 29, 2010, 03:19:57 AM
I have just emailed Radio 3 via their "Contact Us" system to suggest a re-broadcast of their 1983 production of The Tigers on a Thursday afternoon in the run-up to the Prom performance of The Gothic. How about others doing likewise? Even if/though it might seem unlikely to  prompt such a re-broadcast before the Proms, perhaps it would at least serve to remind them that it is there in the archive.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on December 29, 2010, 03:29:59 AM
I have just emailed Radio 3 via their "Contact Us" system to suggest a re-broadcast of their 1983 production of The Tigers on a Thursday afternoon in the run-up to the Prom performance of The Gothic. How about others doing likewise? Even if/though it might seem unlikely to  prompt such a re-broadcast before the Proms, perhaps it would at least serve to remind them that it is there in the archive.

Officially, the 'Gothic' performance isn't even a fact. And I'm not British, though a long-standing member of the HBS. If I mail the BBC, I'll do it next week. Otherwise it could look like a concerted avalanche!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on December 29, 2010, 03:38:31 AM
Three great things I read today about the 'Gothic'.

1) Our own Sarge, on the old forum:

"At the climactic moment (of the Vivace in Part 1), when the tension couldn't be greater or last a second longer, Brian leaps the entire tonal universe in three chords: C major to F sharp to the home key of D minor, and that F sharp never fails to chill me to the bone. It sounds like the existential scream of a million lost souls."

http://www.good-music-guide.com/forum/index.php/topic,8375.msg250263.html#msg250263 (http://www.good-music-guide.com/forum/index.php/topic,8375.msg250263.html#msg250263)

2) Deryck Cooke, in 1966, from the programme booklet for the Boult 'Gothic' (describing the same movement):

"The climax is an astounding one - a sudden musical 'happening', which brings a sense of elemental menace, motivating the choral Te Deum which is the Finale."

3) Karim Elmahmoudi, a trombonist and composer from LA who attended the Brisbane 'Gothic' (and posted the photo on Facebook you saw earlier):

"Knowing this work very well, I was concerned if a live performance would be able to capture it given its extreme technical challenges (for example, there are some moments where the choirs are broken down into 32 separate polyphonic parts), but I was thrilled at hearing the tremendous sound of the full collected forces in action! I'm certain this must have registered on the Richter scale somewhere as an earthquake. Along with some delicate moments, the music features some of the most intensely primal moments I have ever heard! Really, there is nothing I’ve encountered that is quite like this behemoth of a work."
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Monty Cello on December 29, 2010, 03:47:15 AM
Officially, the 'Gothic' performance isn't even a fact.

It's not an officially public fact, but it is very much officially in the performers' diaries.  ;)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on December 29, 2010, 03:49:38 AM
It's not an officially public fact, but it is very much officially in the performers' diaries.  ;)

Point taken...  :D
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on December 29, 2010, 05:25:38 AM
More pics from Brisbane...


Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: karlhenning on December 29, 2010, 06:21:05 AM
One never knows . . . my copy of the Gothic could arrive today . . . .
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on December 29, 2010, 06:25:37 AM
One never knows . . . my copy of the Gothic could arrive today . . . .

'Twill be the end of Boston as we know't, sirrah.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: karlhenning on December 29, 2010, 06:26:20 AM
Nay, Boston will remain the Hub of the Universe : )
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on December 29, 2010, 06:29:04 AM
The Hub of Henning, more likely!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Lethevich on December 29, 2010, 02:51:00 PM
(http://img502.imageshack.us/img502/4619/82954611.jpg)

Has anyone heard this disc? I was tempted to buy it but read a somewhat negative review of it here (http://landofllostcontent.blogspot.com/2008/12/havergal-brian-early-works.html). Mediocre performances I can put up with, but poor engineering and indexing is not on.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on December 29, 2010, 02:59:37 PM
(http://img502.imageshack.us/img502/4619/82954611.jpg)

Has anyone heard this disc? I was tempted to buy it but read a somewhat negative review of it here (http://landofllostcontent.blogspot.com/2008/12/havergal-brian-early-works.html). Mediocre performances I can put up with, but poor engineering and indexing is not on.
How much does it have to cost? I know these recordings still from their LP incarnations (early 80s). I must admit that especially the violins are struggling, more so than their colleagues in the Leicestershire Schools Symphony Orchestra. And the sound? Don't remember. What I do know is that qua interpretation I like some of their versions better than the more polished performances on the Naxos/Marco Polo CDs. The final section of Doctor Merryheart, for instance, and the peroration of the Fantastic variations (Edit: hm, I mean the fanfare with organ, not the violins that have to sing afterwards...). Another bonus is the delightful First English Suite, which you can't find anywhere else...
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Lethevich on December 29, 2010, 03:16:15 PM
I was mainly interested in the first English Suite, I admit. It's £12.50 for two well-filled discs - not sure about shipping. I suppose I should support the worthy projects (like the upcoming new recordings) rather than spend limited money on potentially compromised material, I suppose - especially if it's getting on for full price.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on December 29, 2010, 03:19:04 PM
I was mainly interested in the first English Suite, I admit. It's £12.50 for two well-filled discs - not sure about shipping. I suppose I should support the worthy projects (like the upcoming new recordings) rather than spend limited money on potentially compromised material, I suppose - especially if it's getting on for full price.


If it's only for the Suite, the price is a bit steep. If you're on a tight budget, I'd save the money for the other Brian discs in the pipeline...
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on December 29, 2010, 04:01:06 PM
(http://img502.imageshack.us/img502/4619/82954611.jpg)

Has anyone heard this disc? I was tempted to buy it but read a somewhat negative review of it here (http://landofllostcontent.blogspot.com/2008/12/havergal-brian-early-works.html). Mediocre performances I can put up with, but poor engineering and indexing is not on.

I have this CD - haven't played it for years but am doing so tonight. I agree with Jezetha that the performances mmay be a bit rough-and-ready, but there is a convicion about the playing which is disarming. highlights for me are 'In Memoriam' and the 'English Suite No 1'.  Decades ago I had a fine old CBS LP featuring a youth orchestra (Leicestershire?) playing one of HB's English Suites (possibly No 2 -actually I just found out it was No 5 according to the contribution of a familiar figure to the Wikipedia article on Havergal Brian!)) and the excellent 'Sinfonia Brevis' (No 22) - which is a big omission from the current CD catalogue.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on December 29, 2010, 04:05:11 PM
I have this CD - haven't played it for years but am doing so tonight. I agree with Jezetha that the performances mmay be a bit rough-and-ready, but there is a convicion about the playing which is disarming. highlights for me are 'In Memoriam' and the 'English Suite No 1'.  Decades ago I had a fine old CBS LP featuring a youth orchestra (Leicestershire?) playing one of HB's English Suites (possibly No 2) and the excellent 'Sinfonia Brevis' (No 22) - which is a big omission from the current CD catalogue.
It's the Fifth English Suite, Jeffrey. I have mp3s of these, and of the Symphonia Brevis. If you're interested...
Edit: yes, the LSSO. It also featured Psalm 23.

Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on December 29, 2010, 04:07:57 PM
It's the Fifth English Suite, Jeffrey. I have mp3s of these, and of the Symphonia Brevis. If you're interested...

Hi Johan - I just amended my previous post, having read a famous contribution to the Wikipedia article on HB!

I don't have an mp3 player ( do you need one to play back?) - certainly I'd love to hear Symphony 22 and the English Suite No 5 again.
Jeffrey
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on December 29, 2010, 04:09:12 PM
Hi Johan - I just amended my previous post, having read a famous contribution to the Wikipedia article on HB!

I don't have an mp3 player ( do you need one to play back?) - certainly I'd love to hear Symphony 22 and the English Suite No 5 again.
Jeffrey


You can play the music on your computer. Do you have boxes? Or a headset? [O, that must be me?!]
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on December 29, 2010, 04:51:38 PM

You can play the music on your computer. Do you have boxes? Or a headset? [O, that must be me?!]

'boxes'? Not sure what this means Johan.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on December 29, 2010, 11:27:56 PM
'boxes'? Not sure what this means Johan.

I meant speakers, connected to your computer! (we say 'speakerboxen' or just 'boxen' in Dutch, sorry... !)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: MDL on December 30, 2010, 06:47:49 AM
I've got the Gothic which I really like. My other half bought me this (amongst other things of course) for Christmas:

(http://www.naxos.com/SharedFiles/images/cds/others/8.572020.gif)

But I've been away or in work and haven't had a chance to play it yet. Has anybody heard this CD and got any thoughts?
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on December 30, 2010, 07:08:06 AM
'Any thoughts?' Yes!

I suggest you listen in order of (relative) difficulty - Festal Dance, In Memoriam, Symphony No. 32, Symphony No. 17. Festal Dance and In Memoriam are both early works. The first is very rhythmic and joyous, and not very profound. The second is grand and rather Elgarian, a spacious funeral march (with an allusion to 'God Save the King', as it was then (the early 1910s)). Symphony No. 32 was Brian's final symphony, written when he was 92 (1968). It is a spare, lean work in the contrapuntal style of his late years and shows real vigour. No. 17 (1961) is the last symphony in the postwar 'series' starting with No. 6 - colourful, quick, mercurial and very oblique. I love it.

The performances are good, and so is the sound.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Albion on December 30, 2010, 08:13:54 AM
I've got the Gothic which I really like. My other half bought me this (amongst other things of course) for Christmas:

(http://www.naxos.com/SharedFiles/images/cds/others/8.572020.gif)

But I've been away or in work and haven't had a chance to play it yet. Has anybody heard this CD and got any thoughts?

To be honest, both of the 'Irish' Marco Polo/ Naxos discs are excellent - great programming and super performances under Tony Rowe and Adrian Leaper. The other disc is:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Brian-Symphonies-Nos-11-Concert-Overture/dp/B003NA7G9M/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1293725252&sr=8-3
 (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Brian-Symphonies-Nos-11-Concert-Overture/dp/B003NA7G9M/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1293725252&sr=8-3)

As with the disc pictured above, this will also give you two early works by Brian (For Valour and Dr Merryheart) along with absorbing accounts of the 11th and the 15th. What a great pity that more Brian recordings did not come from the RTE stable!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: MDL on December 30, 2010, 08:23:16 AM
Thanks for the quick comeback, guys. I'm looking forward to wrapping my ears around this CD. Actually, I must give the Gothic another whirl soon.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Klaatu on December 30, 2010, 08:55:50 AM
I've got the Gothic which I really like. My other half bought me this (amongst other things of course) for Christmas:

(http://www.naxos.com/SharedFiles/images/cds/others/8.572020.gif)

But I've been away or in work and haven't had a chance to play it yet. Has anybody heard this CD and got any thoughts?

I love the Elgarian-ness of two of the works here: In Memoriam, whose Elgarisms have already been mentioned, but also the slow movement of Brian's 32nd (and final) symphony. I find this incredibly affecting, because the "stately sorrow" of its climax seems to me the very last gasp of the Elgarian Age - the last use of Elgar's musical language by a composer who was contemporary with (and knew personally ) E.E. himself.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: karlhenning on December 30, 2010, 09:32:58 AM
I've got the Gothic which I really like. My other half bought me this (amongst other things of course) for Christmas:

(http://www.naxos.com/SharedFiles/images/cds/others/8.572020.gif)

But I've been away or in work and haven't had a chance to play it yet. Has anybody heard this CD and got any thoughts?

Thank you all (I think) for the discussion . . . my copy of the Gothic has not yet landed, but I've already now pulled the trigger on this other Brian disc.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on December 30, 2010, 09:49:34 AM
Thank you all (I think) for the discussion . . . my copy of the Gothic has not yet landed, but I've already now pulled the trigger on this other Brian disc.

Then you'll have the alpha and omega of Brian's symphonic output. Not a bad way to begin a Brian journey.

Sage
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Albion on December 31, 2010, 04:21:50 AM
Here is a link to the 1974 performance of Das Siegeslied (Symphony No.4):

http://www.mediafire.com/?v25xjnjawmn
 (http://www.mediafire.com/?v25xjnjawmn)
13 October 1974  [first public performance] / 25 June 1975 (BBC Radio 3 broadcast) . Alexandra Palace, London
Felicity Palmer (sop), BBC Singers, BBC Choral Society, Goldsmith's Choral Union, London Philharmonic Orchestra, conductor John Poole
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on December 31, 2010, 04:27:26 AM
Here is a link to the 1974 performance of Das Siegeslied (Symphony No.4):

http://www.mediafire.com/?v25xjnjawmn
 (http://www.mediafire.com/?v25xjnjawmn)
13 October 1974  [first public performance] / 25 June 1975 (BBC Radio 3 broadcast) . Alexandra Palace, London
Felicity Palmer (sop), BBC Singers, BBC Choral Society, Goldsmith's Choral Union, London Philharmonic Orchestra, conductor John Poole
I have that as an mp3, digitised from an LP (it's in my 'emporium', too). Got it from an American fan. What's the origin of your file? (which I'm going to download, of course!)


Edit: I think it's the same!... Just dl'ed: yes.
+
Just checked the files in my 'emporium': it's the Leaper (Naxos), not the 1974 recording...
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Albion on December 31, 2010, 04:36:13 AM
It also comes from the LP - a net-trawl of Havergal Brian and Aries brought it to the surface!

As a performance I think it holds up very well indeed.

Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on December 31, 2010, 04:47:09 AM
As a performance I think it holds up very well indeed.
I agree. And it's good to have two performances, though neither performance leaves me quite as 'gutted' as Malcolm MacDonald's description in volume 1 of his Brian study should lead you to expect. The work needs a performance of enormous intensity to do it full justice. For instance - that orchestral passage in the middle movement, depicting the chariot of God, isn't as awe-inspiring as I would have wanted. You can tell the music is good, though.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Albion on December 31, 2010, 05:00:05 AM
I agree. And it's good to have two performances, though neither performance leaves me quite as 'gutted' as Malcolm MacDonald's description in volume 1 of his Brian study should lead you to expect. The work needs a performance of enormous intensity to do it full justice. For instance - that orchestral passage in the middle movement, depicting the chariot of God, isn't as awe-inspiring as I would have wanted. You can tell the music is good, though.
I prefer this 1974 performance (despite it's limited sonics) to the Leaper recording - everything hangs together more convincingly and I think that the high quality of the music comes across much more clearly. From what I had read about the Poole performance I was expecting (at the least) some choral mishaps and uncertain orchestral playing - in fact, the achievement of the forces involved is quite breathtaking.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on December 31, 2010, 05:06:45 AM
I prefer this 1974 performance (despite it's limited sonics) to the Leaper recording - everything hangs together more convincingly and I think that the high quality of the music comes across much more clearly. From what I had read about the Poole performance I was expecting (at the least) some choral mishaps and uncertain orchestral playing - in fact, the achievement of the forces involved is quite breathtaking.
Agreed, again. A friend of mine bought the Aries recording in London a long time ago (24 years), so that was the performance which introduced me to the work. I think it's better than the Leaper, too.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on December 31, 2010, 02:38:38 PM
Because it is so good and atmospheric, I'll give you Karim Elmahmoudi's impression (on Facebook) of the Brisbane Gothic in full. Let it be the last thing to appear on this thread before 2010 ends. 2011 should be another great year for Havergal Brian...

"I recently returned from Brisbane, Australia, where I heard a live performance of Havergal Brian’s “Gothic Symphony”. This work is the largest symphonic composition - officially recognized by the Guinness Book of Records (1974) as the largest, longest and most technically difficult symphony ever composed, it is widely regarded as the Mount Everest of classical music. The music required about 500-600 performers of great technical and musical skills.

Some quick statistics: It requires 8 fanfare trumpets, 10 percussionists, organ, 4 choirs plus an additional children’s choir, 4 extra brass bands, 11 clarinets, 6 timpanists (an orchestra of 180). I auditioned to play one of the trombone parts. Though I wasn’t selected, I was invited to attend the rehearsals which I gladly did since this is a work I have been greatly moved by since I first encountered it in its 1989 premiere recording. Plus it was great to make many new friends from Australia and elsewhere around the world.

This was the first time in 30 years since the piece was last performed and only the fifth time in history since its composition in the 1920’s. This had to have ranked up in the top two or three live concert events I’ve ever experienced. The musicianship of the combined orchestras was exceptional and the impact of the performance was a truly shattering experience.

Knowing this work very well, I was concerned if a live performance would be able to capture it given its extreme technical challenges (for example, there are some moments where the choirs are broken down into 32 separate polyphonic parts), but I was thrilled at hearing the tremendous sound of the full collected forces in action! I'm certain this must have registered on the Richter scale somewhere as an earthquake. Along with some delicate moments, the music features some of the most intensely primal moments I have ever heard!

The collage of colors and sounds are so unique – there is a xylophone cadenza in the third movement against unison tubas that was executed extremely well by the performers. The momentum builds and builds with orchestral growls intensifying until the tension is unshakeable and then we hear unison trombone pedal tones blasting a hole in the opposite end of the concert hall.

During the performance, I really enjoyed sitting next to a kind audience member and her young daughter – neither of whom had ever heard of the Gothic Symphony but decided to attend out of curiosity. During the concert they were fully engaged and tremendously enjoyed the whole event and even some of the moments of musical barbarism. It was one of the quietest audiences because they were all so engaged and moved by the performance. Not a peep from anyone even considering this 115 minute work had no intermission. The concert quickly sold out so they opened up the dress rehearsal and that also filled up. The audience was very excited and gave a 10 minute standing ovation. Really, there is nothing I’ve encountered that is quite like this behemoth of a work."
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on January 05, 2011, 08:55:10 AM
Perhaps a funny place to do so, but I want to say I'll be off the radar temporarily. My novel demands my undivided attention if I want to get the first big part published later this year. Of course, Brian's music will accompany my labours...
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: karlhenning on January 05, 2011, 09:09:38 AM
Perhaps a funny place to do so, but I want to say I'll be off the radar temporarily. My novel demands my undivided attention if I want to get the first big part published later this year. Of course, Brian's music will accompany my labours...

Write well, Johan!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Albion on January 05, 2011, 09:56:53 AM
Perhaps a funny place to do so, but I want to say I'll be off the radar temporarily. My novel demands my undivided attention if I want to get the first big part published later this year. Of course, Brian's music will accompany my labours...

If it's anything like The Gothic, you know what that will mean with regard to the dimensions of the second part!  :o
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Lethevich on January 05, 2011, 10:23:17 AM
Perhaps a funny place to do so, but I want to say I'll be off the radar temporarily. My novel demands my undivided attention if I want to get the first big part published later this year. Of course, Brian's music will accompany my labours...
Good luck with it!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on January 05, 2011, 10:25:47 AM
Thanks, everyone! I'll also disable notifications of any reply from GMG (and Facebook, too). Complete abstinence can lead to complete fulfilment... ;-) Bye bye!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Luke on January 06, 2011, 01:06:29 PM
Positively Brianic self-control, to leave things standing like this, J...

Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: karlhenning on January 06, 2011, 01:07:48 PM
Hah!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: karlhenning on January 10, 2011, 09:32:23 AM
Well, I found myself fairly tongue-tied after an inaugural listen to the Gothic.  The weekend was not so peaceful as to allow me a straight-through re-listen, but I did listen again to both disc 1 (once) and disc 2 (twice).  I'm only starting to get a musical coat-rack on which to peg bits of the piece, so I do not yet really have an intelligent sense of the overall garment.  But I like it even better with each go.  I'm far more impressed with it as a whole than in my ignorance I supposed I might be.

(And it somehow feels right to get to know this piece, the same week that I am re-acquainting myself with the Hartmann symphonies. Different as they are.)

Well, just wanted to check in. Fact is, I need to listen a couple of times more. But I'm on it!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on January 13, 2011, 08:18:34 AM
Ha! I got tempted back to GMG after days of writing and I see Karl having had his maiden listening of The Gothic and being positive about the piece. This is really good news. (And btw, Karl - I love Hartmann, too.)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: karlhenning on January 13, 2011, 08:22:02 AM
And I did listen again yesterday, JohanLuke's remarks to the effect of how the piece sustains itself over so long a span have lingered as an echo over my auditions.  Really a marvelous piece.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on January 13, 2011, 08:29:36 AM
And I did listen again yesterday, Johan.  Luke's remarks to the effect of how the piece sustains itself over so long a span have lingered as an echo over my auditions.  Really a marvelous piece.
It is really wonderful to hear from someone you respect that he can share your enthusiasm for a piece of music that still isn't recognised as the fascinating and masterly thing it is. Bravo! on this, the 70th anniversary of James Joyce's death! 
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Luke on January 13, 2011, 08:44:57 AM
And I did listen again yesterday, JohanLuke's remarks to the effect of how the piece sustains itself over so long a span have lingered as an echo over my auditions.  Really a marvelous piece.

Fabulous, all round - to see Johan back briefly, to read Karl's reactions to The Gothic, to think that something I wrote may have had some effect. I was, in fact, preparing another little reply anyway, based on Karls' line ' I'm only starting to get a musical coat-rack on which to peg bits of the piece, so I do not yet really have an intelligent sense of the overall garment'. Give me a few minutes... (though I have 40 children turning up in the classroom to sing their little socks off any second now)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on January 13, 2011, 08:47:55 AM
Fabulous, all round - to see Johan back briefly, to read Karl's reactions to The Gothic, to think that something I wrote may have had some effect. I was, in fact, preparing another little reply anyway, based on Karls' line ' I'm only starting to get a musical coat-rack on which to peg bits of the piece, so I do not yet really have an intelligent sense of the overall garment'. Give me a few minutes... (though I have 40 children turning up in the classroom to sing their little socks off any second now)


Nothing beats informed advocacy, Luke, something at which you excel.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Guido on January 14, 2011, 05:46:58 AM
I don't understand how J has posted two more posts since Luke's picture and still has only 4999 as his total... Have you deleted two posts in order that the total stays there?!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on January 14, 2011, 05:51:04 AM
I don't understand how J has posted two more posts since Luke's picture and still has only 4999 as his total... Have you deleted two posts in order that the total stays there?!

No. Yesterday I had 5003 posts...?!? Let's see if this makes 5000...
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: karlhenning on January 14, 2011, 05:54:48 AM
Something's a bit wonky with the counter. MN Dave created a new account, and 'started' with a count of 516 posts ; )
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on January 14, 2011, 05:56:28 AM
Something's a bit wonky with the counter. MN Dave created a new account, and 'started' with a count of 516 posts ; )

Let's hope the wonky counter doesn't cast you back to 285!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: karlhenning on January 14, 2011, 06:04:51 AM
Let's hope the wonky counter doesn't cast you back to 285!

Should that happen, I'll take it philosophically, rather : )
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on January 28, 2011, 02:46:03 PM
(http://www.prestoclassical.co.uk/t_200/toccataclassicstocc0110.jpg)


BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Garry Walker

The long-neglected British composer Havergal Brian (1876–1972) is gradually coming in from the cold, with recordings on Naxos, Dutton, Testament and now Toccata Classics.

Self-taught, from a working-class family in Stoke-on Trent, he shot to fame when Henry Wood discovered him for the 1907 Proms; but he remained an outsider to the British musical establishment, and is as much known for his creative persistence in the face of utter neglect as for the extremely serious and ambitious works that he produced.

His copious output famously includes 32 symphonies, begun when he was in his mid-forties and continued at a constant rate well into his 90s. Only occasionally requiring gigantic forces on stage – Sir Adrian Boult, who conducted his First Symphony (The Gothic), reportedly had to rehearse with a megaphone in order to be heard – Brian’s symphonies do nonetheless demand large orchestras.

There is also a substantial body of smaller symphonic works such as those featured on this disc (overtures, suites, symphonic poems and variations) that he began as a young man and which he continued to compose as a complement to his later symphonic output.

The four works here span 65 years and encompass his entire composing career: from the early Burlesque Variations that was also championed at the Proms and presumed lost until 1974, to two mature and highly contrasted works from the 1950s and finally his epilogue – Ave atque Vale, music of astonishing vigour and energy for a 92-year-old, and the second-last work that he wrote before he died.

Toccata Classics - TOCC0110

(CD)

€15.49
   

Scheduled for release on 21 March 2011. Order it now and we will deliver it as soon as it is available.

(The above taken from: http://www.prestoclassical.co.uk/search.php?searchString=havergal+Brian (http://www.prestoclassical.co.uk/search.php?searchString=havergal+Brian))
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Est.1965 on January 28, 2011, 04:02:42 PM
  :D  Good God, this is fantastic news Johan!  I had no idea the BBCSO were up to such things.  This really is exciting, way overdue.  I was listening to "Gothic" today, remembering how switched on I got - started to switch on to him again and now this....fab news.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on January 28, 2011, 04:18:14 PM
  :D  Good God, this is fantastic news Johan!  I had no idea the BBCSO were up to such things.  This really is exciting, way overdue.  I was listening to "Gothic" today, remembering how switched on I got - started to switch on to him again and now this....fab news.


Yes, it is, isn't it? And there will be a second Toccata Classics disc of orchestral music from HB's operas (Faust, Turandot, Cenci iirc). This isn't scheduled for release before the Autumn at the earliest.

Out late Feb or early March: two Dutton CDs - Syms 10/30 plus Concerto for Orchestra & English Suite 3, and one with the Cello Concerto plus works by Bush & Bowen.

AND - I just learned that Naxos, finally, will be recording Symphonies 22, 23 & 24 plus English Suite No. 1 in Liverpool at the end of Feb. RLPO conducted by James Judd.  :)


P.S. I just realised - it's now 29 january here in the Netherlands, the birthday of Mozart, Delius and... Havergal Brian.

 
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Lethevich on January 28, 2011, 05:08:53 PM
Woah, so many awesome things to buy this year. I guess I'll try buying directly from the labels in each instance, as it presumably gives them a bigger cut.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Est.1965 on January 28, 2011, 05:11:08 PM
Yes, it is, isn't it? And there will be a second Toccata Classics disc of orchestral music from HB's operas (Faust, Turandot, Cenci iirc). This isn't scheduled for release before the Autumn at the earliest.
Out late Feb or early March: two Dutton CDs - Syms 10/30 plus Concerto for Orchestra & English Suite 3, and one with the Cello Concerto plus works by Bush & Bowen.
AND - I just learned that Naxos, finally, will be recording Symphonies 22, 23 & 24 plus English Suite No. 1 in Liverpool at the end of Feb. RLPO conducted by James Judd.  :)
P.S. I just realised - it's now 29 january here in the Netherlands, the birthday of Mozart, Delius and... Havergal Brian.

I am delighted with ALL this news.  It's breakthrough stuff, and now he may rise to a rightful prominence in the list of the most outstanding English composers.  I know I gush a lot, may sound superfluous, but really good news always gives me a physical reaction of some kind of celebratory joy, and for some reason I feel that way about this.
It is the same feeling as crying out loud "AT LAST""
I for one will be on purchasing everything there, and a debt of gratitude for Johan introducing me to Havergal in the first place (though by the looks of things, my wallet may protest against him come the end of the year...)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Brian on January 28, 2011, 05:11:41 PM
Woah, so many awesome things to buy this year. I guess I'll try buying directly from the labels in each instance, as it presumably gives them a bigger cut.

John, Sara, you're both coming to the Prom Gothic, right? :)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Lethevich on January 28, 2011, 05:17:27 PM
I'm not sure I like his first that much yet, but I have been vaguely entertaining the idea.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: edward on January 28, 2011, 05:18:19 PM
Great to see a modern commercial recording of the Tenth; I've heard a rip of the LSSO recording that merely made me want to hear a more professional orchestra (no discredit to the LSSO, they did a bang-up job all things consider) play this one.

I suppose I should retry the Gothic some time--thus far the works before the 6th haven't grabbed me (I have so far only thoroughly warmed to the 6th through the 10th, which seems from what I've read to be almost the canonical preference).
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: snyprrr on January 28, 2011, 10:07:51 PM
Just heard No.31 for the first time, on YouTube. Well,... I was expecting more... something. :(
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on January 30, 2011, 05:15:04 AM
Just heard No.31 for the first time, on YouTube. Well,... I was expecting more... something. :(

"..the impressions that remain after a performance are of a profound inner calm. The music gazes from the mountaintop, rather than reliving the difficulties of the ascent." --Malcolm MacDonald

Sarge
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Brian on January 30, 2011, 05:24:27 AM
I'm not sure I like his first that much yet, but I have been vaguely entertaining the idea.

Heck, I've never heard it, but how many times is a concert like that going to happen in my life span/hemisphere?
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on January 30, 2011, 05:27:16 AM
Heck, I've never heard it, but how many times is a concert like that going to happen in my life span/hemisphere?


With The Gothic it's bit like with the police - you can wait 30 years for one performance to come around, and then two take place within a year.  ;)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Albion on March 01, 2011, 11:46:15 PM
Although they are not yet listed on the Dutton home-page, the two new Epoch releases featuring Havergal Brian can be found elsewhere on the site and are available for pre-ordering:

http://www.duttonvocalion.co.uk/proddetail.asp?prod=CDLX7267 (http://www.duttonvocalion.co.uk/proddetail.asp?prod=CDLX7267)

http://www.duttonvocalion.co.uk/proddetail.asp?prod=CDLX7263 (http://www.duttonvocalion.co.uk/proddetail.asp?prod=CDLX7263)

 ;D
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Lethevich on March 02, 2011, 12:16:33 AM
Purchased! Thanks :)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 02, 2011, 03:39:24 AM
Thanks, Albion! I was alerted to these two CDs on Facebook by fellow-member Dundonnell (sadly absent here). But I was and am extremely busy and couldn't find the time to relay it to you all here on GMG...
Great news, of course! Btw, there is one mistake about Symphony No. 10, which I spotted immediately: it doesn't ask for an organ. Malcolm MacDonald, one of the two foremost Brian scholars (the other is Paul Rapoport), cleared it up for me: the organ is used in the Third English Suite...
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Albion on March 02, 2011, 07:20:15 AM
Btw, there is one mistake about Symphony No. 10, which I spotted immediately: it doesn't ask for an organ. Malcolm MacDonald, one of the two foremost Brian scholars (the other is Paul Rapoport), cleared it up for me: the organ is used in the Third English Suite...
Not a mistake, but instead a rather a confusing use of symbols - the asterisk beside Symphony No.10 refers to World premiere recordings, except, whereas the cross next to The Stonebreaker indicates the use of the organ.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 02, 2011, 07:22:08 AM
You're right, of course. But Dutton aren't when they write: "The large array of percussion and organ in Symphony No.10 are caught in demonstration-worthy sound, as are the mighty climaxes and Brian’s quiet, atmospheric Sibelian interludes."  :o


http://www.duttonvocalion.co.uk/proddetail.asp?prod=CDLX7267 (http://www.duttonvocalion.co.uk/proddetail.asp?prod=CDLX7267)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Albion on March 02, 2011, 08:20:59 AM
Sorry - I hadn't read all the 'blurb'! Perhaps they've popped an organ pedal or two into the score to make the organist earn his fee, or perhaps he accidentally fell on the console during a particularly tumultuous passage in the 'storm' section and they didn't have the heart to edit him out!  ;)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 02, 2011, 08:37:29 AM
I am reminded of comedy character Count Arthur Strong about Michael Crawford: "He did that er... Oprah Winfrey thing, you know... the Phantom of the Opera! Oh yes, that takes some doing, that part, living in the sewers, hunched over your organ with half your face missing!"
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Albion on March 02, 2011, 08:53:24 AM
Or perhaps Monty Python's

(http://www.intriguing.com/mp/_pictures/compdiff/nudeorga.jpg)  :o
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 02, 2011, 09:02:46 AM
 :D
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Albion on March 02, 2011, 09:05:52 AM
Well, whoever paid the fee for the use of the organ at the Henry Wood Hall in Glasgow certainly got a bum deal!  ;D
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 02, 2011, 09:08:10 AM
 :D


Seeing how many children he fathered, I am always bothered by the tautological 'Bach's Organ Works'.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Albion on March 02, 2011, 09:32:09 AM
BTW, despite the March 17th official release date, TOCC0110 (http://www.toccataclassics.com/cddetail.php?CN=TOCC0110 (http://www.toccataclassics.com/cddetail.php?CN=TOCC0110)) is being shipped by Toccata - I got mine at the end of last week.

For me the undoubted highlight is the 1903 Burlesque Variations - Brian fully-formed at the age of 27 producing music sounding totally unlike anything else being written in Britain (or indeed anywhere) at the time.  :)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 02, 2011, 09:36:58 AM
BTW, despite the March 17th official release date, TOCC0110 (http://www.toccataclassics.com/cddetail.php?CN=TOCC0110 (http://www.toccataclassics.com/cddetail.php?CN=TOCC0110)) is being shipped by Toccata - I got mine at the end of last week.

For me the undoubted highlight is the 1903 Burlesque Variations - Brian fully-formed at the age of 27 producing music sounding totally unlike anything else being written in Britain (or indeed anywhere) at the time.  :)

I only 'know' that very early work from the Hull Youth Orchestra recording, which was terrible. I am thrilled it suddenly stands revealed as a genuinely Brianic piece. Can't wait. Still have to order, though.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Albion on March 02, 2011, 09:42:31 AM
I don't think you'll be disappointed - and the performances of Ave atque vale, Elegy and the 5th English Suite are excellent as well. Roll on Volume 2 (orchestral music from the operas) later in the year!   ;D
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 02, 2011, 09:48:17 AM
I don't think you'll be disappointed - and the performances of Ave atque vale, Elegy and the 5th English Suite are excellent as well. Roll on Volume 2 (orchestral music from the operas) later in the year!   ;D

I heard that Turandot Suite live in St James's Church, Piccadilly, in 1995 - unforgettable. The colour and the variety! And what has been heard from Faust, the Prologue in Heaven, is among Brian's best. So I'm looking forward to the Wild Ride! Both Turandot and Faust date from the years of symphonies 6-12, a golden period in my view.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Klaatu on March 03, 2011, 01:54:43 AM
Just listened to the sample tracks from the new Brian CD on the Toccata website.

WOW!! :o

They sound GREAT! And this sums up part of the "Brian Problem" - to date, most of his works have been given performances ranging from the mediocre to the execrable - with a few honourable exceptions. (The Fredman 6 and 16 comes to mind.)

WHAT A DIFFERENCE when a professional orchestra is well-rehearsed by a conductor totally committed to Brian's idiom!

On the Toccata CD, even the "Burlesque Variations" - a relatively "light" piece for Brian - sounds very impressive.

I just can't WAIT to hear what Martyn Brabbins and the RSNO make of that awesome score, the Tenth Symphony.

Kudos to Toccata, Dutton and all involved. 2011 might be the year in which Brian finally gets his due; let's hope so!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 03, 2011, 02:09:59 AM
Didn't know about those samples...  :o  I am going to download the thing NOW - I don't care for silver discs anyhow, and the sleevenotes can be downloaded, too.  :)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Hattoff on March 03, 2011, 11:18:02 PM
Yes, I have downloaded the Toccata disc and ordered the Duttons. It's wonderful to hear good performances of these works, though I had gotten used to the crunchiness of the old tape of the 5th English Suite and miss it a little. :'(
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 03, 2011, 11:54:20 PM
(Hi, Hattoff!)
 
I listened to theToccata CD 5 or 6 times yesterday. My conclusion: an important addition to the Brian discography, but not perfect. I like the playing of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, they don't show any difficulty with Brian's tricky idiom. The sound is a bit dry, and light (to these ears). The conductor, Garry Walker, gives us brisk readings. There is no loitering there, the music moves forward, colourful, through a great many moods and landscapes.
 
So far, so good.
 
The one problem I have with this approach is: it doesn't work all of the time, it can't, because some movements or passages are really meant to be played more slowly to get their full effect. I am thinking especially of Elegy and of Reverie in the Fifth English Suite. The former takes 3 minutes longer in a studio recording with the BBC Northern Symphony Orchestra under Brian Wright and it really is much more powerful in that reading. As for Reverie, the youth orchestra is no match for the BBCSSO, but interpretation-wise, the older reading is superior. So I won't turn to Garry Walker in the future, alas, when I want to listen to these pieces.
 
What I certainly will do is listen to the rest. Ave Atque Vale and the Burlesque Variations, especially, are in themselves worth the price of admission. Ave Atque Vale is Brian's penultimate work, written when he was 92. It is short and sharp, and stylistically very similar to symphonies like 28, 30 and 31. I love it, though it took me a few times to understand its structure. The Burlesque Variations on an Original Theme is Brian's earliest extant orchestral work, written at age 27, and it is wonderful in its youthful gusto and adventurousness.
 
And here endeth the lesson.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Hattoff on March 04, 2011, 12:15:01 AM
Hi Johan,
I see what you mean, perhaps that is why I wasn't quite so enamoured with the 5th English Suite. As for the sound, I agree, but found it helpful to turn the volume up louder than I usually do, though then it gets a bit too loud in places. I too have listened to the recording at least five times (more today) and the music just takes my breath away.
Come on Duttons, I can't wait to hear the Concerto for Orchestra, the tape of which I lost some years ago. :)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on March 04, 2011, 03:10:42 PM
The Dutton HB Symphony 10 is out next week - can't wait.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 04, 2011, 03:23:44 PM
The Dutton HB Symphony 10 is out next week - can't wait.

Let's hope it will totally surpass the LSSO performance and that it shows aspects of the work never experienced before...
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on March 05, 2011, 03:11:09 PM
Let's hope it will totally surpass the LSSO performance and that it shows aspects of the work never experienced before...

Yes, that is absolutely my hope. Symphonies 8-10 are my favourites apart from The Gothic.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on March 08, 2011, 08:42:46 AM
Very good news here:

http://www.duttonvocalion.co.uk/proddetail.asp?prod=CDLX7267
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on March 08, 2011, 09:11:47 AM
Very good news here:

http://www.duttonvocalion.co.uk/proddetail.asp?prod=CDLX7267

That would be good news if Dutton accepted my credit card. But they are the only web store that's refused it. Oh well, I'll wait until its available from Amazon.

Sarge
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on March 09, 2011, 08:28:33 AM
That would be good news if Dutton accepted my credit card. But they are the only web store that's refused it. Oh well, I'll wait until its available from Amazon.

Sarge

That's really annoying - hopefully will be on Amazon soon.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J on March 09, 2011, 04:02:18 PM
Yes, that is absolutely my hope. Symphonies 8-10 are my favourites apart from The Gothic.

The "Tragica" (No.6) not included?  For me, Nos. 6, 8, & 10 stand heads above any of the others (exceptional as some of those are also).
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Lethevich on March 09, 2011, 08:40:44 PM
Is the 7th too melodic for y'all? ;)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Klaatu on March 10, 2011, 08:59:42 AM
For me it's 6, 10 and 16......oh, and The Gothic.
Then 7 and 8.
And I do rather like In Memoriam!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Lethevich on March 10, 2011, 10:03:07 AM
I'm also keen on the 16th outside the usual pantheon of nos.6-10, no doubt due to it being one of the few later ones to receive a top-notch recording.

I'm also very fond of the 27th for the same reason - the (commercially unreleased - come on Dutton!) Mackerras recording is very fine and made a believer of me.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on March 12, 2011, 10:10:39 AM
I remember buying the Mackerras Lp as a teenager & being disappointed by it. I recently got the deleted emi 'twofer' that includes the Seventh & now regard it as one of his best. Yet most Brian enthusiasts hardly mention it! I wonder why? It is surely one of Brian's most colourful,consistently inspired and atmospheric creations. Particularly fascinating is the way that this big,expansive,romantically inclined symphony shares so many of the characteristics of his later more elliptical utterances. It's like a melting pot of early & late Brian. You need to understand it to crack the later ones. A very underrated work in the Brian canon.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Lethevich on March 12, 2011, 10:25:49 AM
I agree that the 7th is the ultimate Brian intro, it lacks much of the "tough nut" quality of the chronologically surrounding works. It has such a velvety, brooding Romantic/gothic mood (explicit, opposed to the 1st's philosophising).
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Christo on March 12, 2011, 12:26:00 PM
That would be good news if Dutton accepted my credit card. But they are the only web store that's refused it. Oh well, I'll wait until its available from Amazon.

Sarge

I think it's there for a couple of days already: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Havergal-Brian-Symphony-Concerto-Orchestra/dp/B004RO2L5W/ref=sr_1_19?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1299961354&sr=1-19
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on March 13, 2011, 02:46:54 AM
I think it's there for a couple of days already: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Havergal-Brian-Symphony-Concerto-Orchestra/dp/B004RO2L5W/ref=sr_1_19?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1299961354&sr=1-19

I've been looking for it but searchs at amazon uk of Havergal Brian didn't, and still don't turn up the item for me. Since you provided a link it's obviously there though. Thanks!

Sarge
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on March 14, 2011, 01:21:49 AM
The "Tragica" (No.6) not included?  For me, Nos. 6, 8, & 10 stand heads above any of the others (exceptional as some of those are also).

You are right - I should have included No 6 - a great work and I was delighted when it appeared on Lyrita.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Hattoff on March 14, 2011, 01:58:19 AM
The Dutton disc turned up this morning. Well early. A surpassing of expectations, the orchestral playing is wonderful and the sound quality is unbelievably good. A treat for all here.
Still waiting for the Cello Concerto disc.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 14, 2011, 02:03:01 AM
The Dutton disc turned up this morning. Well early. A surpassing of expectations, the orchestral playing is wonderful and the sound quality is unbelievably good. A treat for all here.
Still waiting for the Cello Concerto disc.

After days of natural disasters, this counts as a sorely-needed cultural blessing. I am VERY glad to read this!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on March 14, 2011, 09:14:31 AM
I think it's there for a couple of days already: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Havergal-Brian-Symphony-Concerto-Orchestra/dp/B004RO2L5W/ref=sr_1_19?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1299961354&sr=1-19

Received email from the seller today: the CD has shipped. Once again, thanks, Christo.

Sarge
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on March 14, 2011, 10:13:42 AM
My copy of the new Dutton cd, pre-ordered via the Dutton website, of Symphony No 10 (& all the other things on it) dropped through the letterbox this morning.!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on March 14, 2011, 10:26:09 AM
To be fair,after a precursory listen,the old Leicestershire Schools Symph recording stands up pretty well & if it IS ever re-released on cd,and I don't think it ever has (?),I WOULD buy it. In fact their performance is etched in my memory to such a degree,the tempi on parts of the new performance actually sounded 'wrong'. And,please note,I don't mean that literaly,it's just the way you hear a piece in your head! Also,the coupling of No 21 seemed ideal & please,if there's any cd labels planning more HB,could we have a new recording of THAT one. Although,if memory serves me correctly,I have to say,the Leicestershire bunch were better at No 10. Okay,that's enough grumbling. Thank you VERY much Dutton!
After that it was Karajan's old 60's performances of Beethoven's 1st & the 'Eroica'! More HB later.........
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J on March 14, 2011, 10:51:21 AM
To be fair,after a precursory listen,the old Leicestershire Schools Symph recording stands up pretty well & if it IS ever re-released on cd,and I don't think it ever has (?),I WOULD buy it.

In fact, the Leicestershire performance was released on a Unicorn CD probably almost 2 decades ago now.

It's still around, even though Unicorn itself is now defunct of course.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 14, 2011, 10:56:26 AM
Here is No. 10:

http://www.mediafire.com/file/xztyigy2wjz/Brian%2010.mp3
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on March 14, 2011, 12:11:52 PM
Uh-oh,I missed that one. Doh! Thanks for the link. Now to find out if I'm just hearing that one through rose tinted ears.
The Hull Youth Symphony recordings,I have to say, were a different kettle of fish. Yet they tried,they were brave & their 'Festal Dance' really was miles more fun than that dreary,humourless, Naxos performance. On the other hand,those wierd,strained slightly off key strings really did warp my under standing of Brian for a while,though. Sitting through parts of those performances really was like listening to fingernails scraping a school blackboard. Yet,strangely enough,however much they left to desire,(allot!),they did possess an enthusiasm & fervour that some of those more polished Naxos performances lacked.
Hope someone can give us a professional performance of the 'English Suite No 1' before long!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 14, 2011, 12:20:04 PM
I agree - those Hull Youth Orchestra recordings were technically (sometimes) disastrous, but what they lacked in rock-solid intonation (those violins!), they made up for in enthusiasm. I still like their Doctor Merryheart, First English Suite and Fantastic Variations (in my memory, that is, for I don't have the LPs or CDs).

I'll be listening to the Dutton CD soon and see what Brabbins does with (to?!) Nos 10 and 30...
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on March 14, 2011, 12:23:19 PM
Yes,there it is,the Unicorn cd of HB I missed,only by twenty years,on Amazon.com. A photo to of the sleeve with a rock strewn mountain scape on the front,which seems oddly appropriate. I like Unicorn,a pity they went down. It must be a rare cd now. I have done dozens of searches for Brian cd's & lp's over the years & this has never come up. Maybe,I'm just unlucky.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 14, 2011, 12:31:16 PM
Yes,there it is,the Unicorn cd of HB I missed,only by twenty years,on Amazon.com. A photo to of the sleeve with a rock strewn mountain scape on the front,which seems oddly appropriate. I like Unicorn,a pity they went down. It must be a rare cd now. I have done dozens of searches for Brian cd's & lp's over the years & this has never come up. Maybe,I'm just unlucky.

I have it. Do you want the links to No 21, too?

P.S. The disc looks coffee-coloured, but it is still playable (just tested it).
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on March 14, 2011, 12:32:25 PM
Oh,not knocking the Dutton cd. I'm just suprised at how well the old Leicestershire Schools Orch version stands up. Incidentally,I just looked for the old Hull Youth Sym recordings & found the cd set at a very low price. Unfortunately,I have bought some cd's & dvd's from this vendor which have turned out to be dodgy. On the other hand I also got some rare recordings off them at very low prices which other sellers ask huge prices for & they have,to date,always given my money back. So I have decided to take a chance on it as if they are in 'very good' condition' and don't look like Torville & Dean have been skating on them & the cd player actually gets past '0' I WILL have got a bargain,cross fingers,touch wood!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on March 14, 2011, 12:35:34 PM
Thanks very much for the offer,but I have access to that one.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on March 14, 2011, 12:37:25 PM
Nice cover photo. I wonder what 'Mountain' it is? It doesn't look like Snowdon!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 14, 2011, 12:40:21 PM
Nice cover photo. I wonder what 'Mountain' it is? It doesn't look like Snowdon!

I have been to Snowdon (took a lazy cable car to the summit...) The booklet enclosed only says the photo was made by one Nigel Brandt. That's all...
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on March 14, 2011, 01:28:28 PM
Thankyou. An odd query,but I always look at the small print when I get a cd to see who the painting is by,or the location of a photo! The music is more important obviously. At least, I hope so!!!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 15, 2011, 12:22:28 AM
I have just listened to the Tenth (twice, with a score).


The sound of the recording is terrific. This CD can easily be added to the few that have really done Brian's orchestral wizardry justice.  The Leicestershire Tenth dates from 1972, it was the only recording available, and you almost thought that that WAS the Tenth... Now we get Brabbins' take on the work. Tempi are brisker, the music flows very naturally. I read along with a score and I noticed that Brian really does want this. Although I would in a few passages have wished for a marginally slower tempo, I find this new 'version' very compelling. At first I was slightly disappointed by the 'storm scene' (with the infamous wind AND thunder machines), because I found it too sober, not 'con fuoco' enough. But later on Brabbins amply makes amends after the great lyrical passage with solo violin: the music there is stormier than anything in the storm itself, as if this was the thing that wanted to emerge. Another great thing about this performance is the amount of detail you get to hear, the most striking being the subtle change in harmony in the tremolandi strings four bars before the end. I had never noticed that, and it gives a new colouring to the violin that sings above it. But there are many more tiny things that gave you the sense of an old painting being cleaned up and revealing new beauties. Chapeau to Dutton, Brabbins and his orchestra! And Brian.


UPDATE: My enthusiasm is growing after a few more listenings. I think Brabbins has done it. This Tenth is it  (as far as any performance ever can BE the work). And another thing is clear to me - this is music for this century, elemental, fearless, visionary. Long live Havergal Brian!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Luke on March 15, 2011, 03:52:48 AM
Lovely post, Johan. My copy of the 10th/30th disc came yesterday, too, along with the Cello Concerto disc. Have only had time to listen to the 10th and the English Suite so far - but I echo your thoughts and comments

The LSSO 10th will remain an important document in the history of HB, and one we can be grateful for (and as an ex-LSSO member who used to rehearse in the room in which the symphony was recorded, one I feel a connection to - strangely enough, Brabbins conducted me in the LSSO many years later, though in Kancheli and Woolrich, not in Brian!). But this new one is really, as Johan says, 'it'. There was nothing there that wasn't there incipiently in the LSSO recording, but so many passages revealed their true weight instantly listening through to this recording last night. The storm has never struck me as much as now; the violin solo and the music around it was never as powerfully, overwhelmingly lyrical and structurally vital as on this new recording. It's a really fine recording, and I can't wait to play it through again later.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Guido on March 15, 2011, 06:38:46 AM
How have I missed these?! Didn't know they'd released the cello concerto too...
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: edward on March 15, 2011, 08:13:37 AM
Those with the disc with the 10th--I'm curious as to how the CforO and 30th come off. (I'll certainly be getting the disc, as the LSSO 10th has convinced me there's a lot in the work, but I'm curious as to the other two.)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 15, 2011, 08:31:58 AM
Those with the disc with the 10th--I'm curious as to how the CforO and 30th come off. (I'll certainly be getting the disc, as the LSSO 10th has convinced me there's a lot in the work, but I'm curious as to the other two.)


Edward, after listening to the Tenth 5 times, the Thirtieth 3 times, and the Third English Suite and the Concerto for Orchestra once, I can safely say that in Brabbins we have a real Brian conductor. The man is completely at home in Brian's style, and this disc spans 40 years, from 'early mature' (Suite) to 'very late mature' (Thirtieth). I have heard four performances of No. 30, and this one is excellent. I can't compare the CfO, but knowing Brian's style in the symphonies that surround it (18-21 and 22-24), the work flows with effortless ease, though it is a demanding score (for both the orchestra and the listener). As for the Suite, it is a wonderful work, in its orchestral writing related to the opera 'The Tigers' - very colourful and inventive. So - the disc is warmly recommended. It's an essential addition to the Brian discography.


--Johan


(I have corrected the conductor's surname. The y goes into the Martyn, not into the Brabbins...)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on March 15, 2011, 09:46:27 AM
I second that. It is certainly one of the best Brian cd's I've ever heard. I do think the Leicestershire Schools symphony brought a bit more ferocity,or perhaps I should say gusto, to that strange storm sequence & that wierd stillness that follows has oodles more atmosphere in the LSSO performance. Some of that of course is probably because I'm so used to the older recording,but I do think it's a tribute to their abilities that their performance stands up so well after all these years. Having said that,taken as a whole, the new performance is much tauter & it is definately the one I will choose to play from now on. Well,most of the time anyway! In fact,churlish,quibbles aside,it is definately one of the best performances of a Brian symphony I have ever heard,and one of the finest Brian cd's. Like the cover design too! So much better than some of those Naxos cd's which were so awful they nearly put me off one of my favourite composers for good!
Must mention the interpolation of the organ in the suite. As soon as I heard that I just had to order the Toccata cd! More Brian please. The strange thing about Brian is,that even the things that he wrote that I'm not sure I really like, intrigue me so much I have an overwhelming urge to listen to them again...and again,if only to work out why they still fascinate me.
I will report back when I get the Hull Youth so cd set. Hopefully it will be free of scratches!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Luke on March 15, 2011, 12:16:26 PM
Listened to the Cello Concerto this afternoon. My immediate thought (not dispelled as I listened further) was - this may well be the best way into late Brian for the uninitiated. Because, as even us arch-Brianites know, the late pieces are generally hard nuts to crack, so compressed and elliptical is their thought. Well, here, in the concerto, all the hallmarks of late Brian are there, but in a most genial form - harmony is simpler, less thorny, lines are clear and lucid, motivic play is really a delight to follow. Above all, the addition of a soloist is the simplest way possible of delineating form - passages which out of context might sound like typically baffling late Brian are here heard as 'preparation for soloist', 'reaction to soloist' etc. etc. It's a very clear, charming piece. This is a great time to be a Brianite - an embarass de richesse indeed!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 15, 2011, 01:31:16 PM
I hope that other Dutton disc arrives here soon. Your description of the Cello Concerto makes it sound very enticing indeed, Luke! Malcolm MacDonald, in vol. 2 of his study, calls it 'not major Brian'. Neither is the Third English Suite, perhaps, which I am enjoying at the moment. But it's Brian at his most approachable, and even in that more welcoming guise, he is his own man.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on March 16, 2011, 12:26:33 AM
I think that the photo on the old Unicorn CD is somewhere in the Alps (well, this is what someone told me once).

Like others here I'm thrilled with the new Dutton CD of Symphony No 10 - this is just the sort of craggy, uncomromising and defiant music that I need to hear! Like cilgwyn I was also surprised by how well the Loughran LSSO Unicorn version stands up against it and I too, at first, thought that sections of the new recording sounded 'wrong' as I'm so familiar with the earlier recording. However after a second hearing I was won over to the new version - a wonderful performance of a great Symphony (if you like it you might also like Robin Orr's  one movement Symphony on an EMI CD). The LSSO clearly did a terrific service to Brian with that earlier version. I found the end with the brief lovely violin solo followed by those epic chords to be very moving in the new version - but maybe I'm just getting more sentimental as I get older!

I haven't yet ordered the Cello Concerto and I'd be very grateful to hear what other think of it - and the other works on the CD.  So far I've been rather disappointed with York Bowen, but I'm tempted by that CD. I also enjoyed the Symphony 30, more than I do most of the very late Brian symphonies - certainly I wanted to listen again and there are some interesting sonorities.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on March 16, 2011, 12:30:58 AM
Listened to the Cello Concerto this afternoon. My immediate thought (not dispelled as I listened further) was - this may well be the best way into late Brian for the uninitiated. Because, as even us arch-Brianites know, the late pieces are generally hard nuts to crack, so compressed and elliptical is their thought. Well, here, in the concerto, all the hallmarks of late Brian are there, but in a most genial form - harmony is simpler, less thorny, lines are clear and lucid, motivic play is really a delight to follow. Above all, the addition of a soloist is the simplest way possible of delineating form - passages which out of context might sound like typically baffling late Brian are here heard as 'preparation for soloist', 'reaction to soloist' etc. etc. It's a very clear, charming piece. This is a great time to be a Brianite - an embarass de richesse indeed!

Thanks for this - please can you let me know what you think of the other works on the CD.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 16, 2011, 12:37:25 AM
Hi, Jeffrey! I know Colin is very impressed by the Bush Cello Concerto...
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on March 16, 2011, 12:51:00 AM
Hi, Jeffrey! I know Colin is very impressed by the Bush Cello Concerto...

Thanks Johan! Looks like my bank situation will be getting even worse. By the way I was delighted to read that the English Suite No 3 was inspired by the Sussex countryside - as that's where I live!

Best wishes to you

Jeffrey
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Christo on March 16, 2011, 01:07:00 AM
This is a great time to be a Brianite - an embarass de richesse indeed!

 :) :) ;)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on March 16, 2011, 01:26:23 AM
:) :) ;)

This is like a reunion of the so-called Braga Santos Experts isn't it?  ;D
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 16, 2011, 01:31:44 AM
If Colin (aka Dundonnell for those who don't know) were here, the Braga Santos Experts would be out in force! Happy days... ;)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on March 16, 2011, 01:52:24 AM
If Colin (aka Dundonnell for those who don't know) were here, the Braga Santos Experts would be out in force! Happy days... ;)

Indeed - Colin's absence from this forum is a cause of regret .  Still, it was great to meet him in London and to meet those other BSEs in Leiden - Happy days indeed  :D
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Christo on March 16, 2011, 03:05:24 AM
This is like a reunion of the so-called Braga Santos Experts isn't it?  ;D

 :D I do hope you will all meet & reunite around the Gothic in July. Regretfully, I won't be there. But definitely next time!  ;)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on March 16, 2011, 05:41:25 AM
'Dundonell' is before my time as a 'poster' on this message board,but I have found some of his posts very useful when I have been trying to find out something about a particular work or composer.
As to the LSSO of the 10th,I think you just get so used to hearing a particular recording in your head,and unlike some other works by other British composers,there hasn't exactly been allot of choice. Another point too,this thing about hearing a particular recording 'in your head' reminds me of the R3 broadcast of the Ole Schmidt 'Gothic',when I was a teenager. I recorded the broadcast on cassette & like some teenagers on an old 'piano key' type mono cassette recorder positioned in front of the radio. Somehow the second tape got damaged or the recording went wrong. When I finally secured a recording of the entire symphony from a HB member. For years I kept 'hearing' the break where the C90 cassette side ended.
A less subtle example & dangerously off topic,perhaps? When I finally replaced my old LP of Emerson Lake & Palmer's 'Pictures of an Exhibition' (a very ott 70's Progressive rock group with big ideas,for those who haven't heard of them) I kept 'hearing' the bit where the needle jumped a track.
They do say the first recording you hear is the one you like best, (needle skips aside), Maybe I just need to listen to the new recording a bit more,it really isn't THAT bad (joking!)!!!
  Regarding the Unicorn cd. I wasn't being entirely serious about it being 'Snowdon' Vandermolen,but thanks for telling me. It seems you've been higher than me. My highest summit so far,mountain wise is 'Carningli' in North Pembrokeshire. Eat your heart out Edmund Hillary!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 16, 2011, 06:58:17 AM
I have known and cherished the LSSO performance for 30 years. But after listening to the Brabbins around 10 times now, there is no question in my mind which performance I'll be listening to in the future. It's not perfect, but it comes close. For instance - the trumpet, 'far away in the distance' as the score demands, isn't far away at all, which diminishes the magic a bit. And the violin solo sounds more vulnerable in the LSSO performance. But taken as a whole, Brabbins' Tenth belongs to that very small group of Brian performances which really get to the heart of what this music is and how it should move and sound.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on March 16, 2011, 07:14:59 AM
I think you're right. In fact I KNOW you're right,it's just that 'storm' sequence & that eerie moment of calm that follows. Another couple of listens should do the trick. (And this is someone who actually prefers Bryden Thomson Bax cycle to Vernon Handley's!!!)
Perhaps I shouldn't have ordered those Hull Youth SO recordings after all.
(Even if the cd copy they send ACTUALLY works).
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 16, 2011, 07:25:57 AM
Here is John Whitmore, who took part in that historic LSSO recording of the Tenth, playing the violin:


Now for the verdict on the 10th. The LSSO acoustic was very dry and unforgiving. A bit more glow would have masked some of the intonation issues. The new one is a bit too washy for my tastes and the horns and brass are often lost in the texture. Somewhere between the two would be perfect. The playing on the new disc is, of course, much superior to a load of kids who weren't even music students but interpretively speaking I prefer sections of the LSSO as follows:

1) The pppp section before the storm is riveting by the LSSO. Brabbins doesn't achieve the stillness required. There's no feeling that something catastrophic is about to come.

2) The storm section is hair raising in the LSSO and quite sedate in the new recording. Those piercing trumpets and trombones are swamped in the acoustic and have no bite. It's all a bit tame.

3) Just before the return of the violin solo there is the famous chord that "stares sphinx like" according to Bob Simpson. The LSSO get this just right and it's a hair raising moment. With Brabbins it's just a passing chord with no feeling of doom or isolation about it.


4) The fact that the LSSO are stretched gives the music a sort of primitive feeling and there is the sense of sitting on the edge of a precipice all the time. This doesn't come through in the new version because the playing is so good that the sense of danger is missing.Overall, a lovely disc and I like it a lot. I still think that there is a place for both versions which is great testament to the LSSO. 
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 16, 2011, 07:29:19 AM
(And this is someone who actually prefers Bryden Thomson Bax cycle to Vernon Handley's!!!)

So, perhaps, do I!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on March 16, 2011, 09:42:15 AM
'John Whitmore' quite obviously knows allot more about it than I do & it's rather reassuring from a listeners point of view that he has almost exactly the same reservations about certain aspects of the new recording as I do. Although 'reservations' probably isn't the right word because there really isn't much about the new performance to complain about. Some people might even call it 'nit picking', I suppose! I mean,let's face it,you can't place this in the same category as the awful, (well I think so), Naxos recording of Brian's Symphony No 2 v the Mackerras performance. And I really can't understand why anyone would prefer any aspect of THAT to the Mackerras recording. But maybe some would?
On the other hand,we all have different opinions & react in different ways. I know that the 'famous' Naxos performance of the 'Gothic' had it's share of ungrateful critics. Personally I hated it so much it nearly put me off Brian for years. To this day my favourite performance is the one by Ole Schmidt,but I know that allot of people would disagree with me. Some composers are of course even unluckier than Brian. Charles Tournemire's lovely Second Symphony,for example,which is at the mercy of one pretty lousy Marco Polo cd,yet the wonderful scoring somehow filters through despite the odds.
   As to Bryden Thomson,whatever the critics say,he's hardly incompetent. I personally like the way his more lesiurely conducting allows Bax's gorgeous orchestral textures & moods more time to 'breathe'. I feel that Thomson is more in tune with Bax's romantic,yearning moods. And................I could go on,but this is not the place to talk about Bax,is it,except to add my admiration for an underrated & very adventurous conductor who did a heck of allot to bring Bax & other neglected composers to a wider audience. I also wish he'd been able to get around to recording the symphonies of my fellow country man, Daniel Jones. Alas!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Luke on March 16, 2011, 10:01:24 AM
As to the LSSO of the 10th,I think you just get so used to hearing a particular recording in your head,and unlike some other works by other British composers,there hasn't exactly been allot of choice. Another point too,this thing about hearing a particular recording 'in your head' reminds me of the R3 broadcast of the Ole Schmidt 'Gothic',when I was a teenager. I recorded the broadcast on cassette & like some teenagers on an old 'piano key' type mono cassette recorder positioned in front of the radio. Somehow the second tape got damaged or the recording went wrong. When I finally secured a recording of the entire symphony from a HB member. For years I kept 'hearing' the break where the C90 cassette side ended.

I had a similar experience with my first Gothic, which was just the Lenard, on cassette (don't ask why, but it was my first Brian, and I didn't know what to expect!) The female voices which begin the Judex - that initial cluster, as it crescendoed, had a horrible veering sharpwards and then back again over the course of a second or less. But, such is the extent to which I wore out that tape, it took me a long time to unlearn this!

A less subtle example & dangerously off topic,perhaps? When I finally replaced my old LP of Emerson Lake & Palmer's 'Pictures of an Exhibition' (a very ott 70's Progressive rock group with big ideas,for those who haven't heard of them) I kept 'hearing' the bit where the needle jumped a track.

Again, something similar for me - my first Planets was the Halle/Loughran one, and it was a needle skip in Neptune, one of those already-repetitive swaying chord patterns, so that the skipping almost fit. I liked that one..!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on March 16, 2011, 10:46:49 AM
:D I do hope you will all meet & reunite around the Gothic in July. Regretfully, I won't be there. But definitely next time!  ;)

I'm hopeful that you wont be able to escape a reunion in the near future.  :D
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: karlhenning on March 16, 2011, 10:51:36 AM
Again, something similar for me - my first Planets was the Halle/Loughran one, and it was a needle skip in Neptune, one of those already-repetitive swaying chord patterns, so that the skipping almost fit. I liked that one..!

Hah!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on March 16, 2011, 11:35:34 AM
'Dundonell' is before my time as a 'poster' on this message board,but I have found some of his posts very useful when I have been trying to find out something about a particular work or composer.
As to the LSSO of the 10th,I think you just get so used to hearing a particular recording in your head,and unlike some other works by other British composers,there hasn't exactly been allot of choice. Another point too,this thing about hearing a particular recording 'in your head' reminds me of the R3 broadcast of the Ole Schmidt 'Gothic',when I was a teenager. I recorded the broadcast on cassette & like some teenagers on an old 'piano key' type mono cassette recorder positioned in front of the radio. Somehow the second tape got damaged or the recording went wrong. When I finally secured a recording of the entire symphony from a HB member. For years I kept 'hearing' the break where the C90 cassette side ended.
A less subtle example & dangerously off topic,perhaps? When I finally replaced my old LP of Emerson Lake & Palmer's 'Pictures of an Exhibition' (a very ott 70's Progressive rock group with big ideas,for those who haven't heard of them) I kept 'hearing' the bit where the needle jumped a track.
They do say the first recording you hear is the one you like best, (needle skips aside), Maybe I just need to listen to the new recording a bit more,it really isn't THAT bad (joking!)!!!
  Regarding the Unicorn cd. I wasn't being entirely serious about it being 'Snowdon' Vandermolen,but thanks for telling me. It seems you've been higher than me. My highest summit so far,mountain wise is 'Carningli' in North Pembrokeshire. Eat your heart out Edmund Hillary!

Oh yes, Emerson Lake and Palmer's 'Pictures at an Exhibition' I had the LP. The inscription 'Mussorgsky/Lake' at the end of tracks struck me as hilariously pretentious even as a teenager.  I agree with you about Bryden Thomson and prefer his Bax cycle to the Vernon Handley too. Of the 25 CD recordings of Walton's 1st Symphony that I possess (it's known as Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder), the Bryden Thomson on Chandos is probably the best and there are many other great recordings too (VW Symphony 4, 6 and 9) Elgar's 'Music Makers' etcetc. Alexander Gibson is another underrated conducted -wonderful in Sibelius, VW No 5 is one of the best. I have almost certainly not been mountaineering higher than you! I am definitely an armchair explorer. Putting a CD on is about the most strenuous thing I do! Getting back to HB - I think that the new Dutton CD ranks with Stanley Bates symphonies 3 and 4 and Richard Arnell's symphonies 3-5 as my most treasured CDs.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: karlhenning on March 16, 2011, 11:43:29 AM
Oh yes, Emerson Lake and Palmer's 'Pictures at an Exhibition' I had the LP. The inscription 'Mussorgsky/Lake' at the end of tracks struck me as hilariously pretentious even as a teenager.

Heavens! I'd clean forgotten that . . . .
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on March 16, 2011, 12:12:09 PM
Heavens! I'd clean forgotten that . . . .

So had I until cilgwyn's post!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 16, 2011, 12:13:50 PM
I think the main reason I prefer the 'new' Tenth to the old one has less to do with the merits of the orchestras concerned. The LSSO did a terrific job. That I have played their recording innumerable times the past 30 years says it all.


No, the thing that swings it for me is simply the conductor. Brabbins has a finer grasp of the Brian style. And he has an excellent sense of pace. One example out of many - at the beginning, just after the opening has ended, you immediately get a change in atmosphere:- a solo oboe and a muttering bassoon have a weird dialogue, 6 bars long, whilst a flute sings in the heights. In the Loughran the tempo is slower than Brian stipulates, making the whole thing sound ponderous. I always subconsciously skipped this passage and saw it as just a bridge to more appealing matter. But Brabbins plays it as Brian wrote it, and now you feel the tempo of the opening still present behind it, you feel that the story is continuing...


Brian once said of Delius' 'Mass of Life': Plot is always with us. And this is exactly what Brabbyns does - he tells a story, everything is subservient to an overarching view of the work. That's why the fact that certain things don't 'stand out' as spectacularly as in the LSSO performance don't matter too much to me - I feel at the end we have been on a very coherent journey, in spite of all the dazzling variety.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on March 16, 2011, 12:14:18 PM
Here is John Whitmore, who took part in that historic LSSO recording of the Tenth, playing the violin:


Now for the verdict on the 10th. The LSSO acoustic was very dry and unforgiving. A bit more glow would have masked some of the intonation issues. The new one is a bit too washy for my tastes and the horns and brass are often lost in the texture. Somewhere between the two would be perfect. The playing on the new disc is, of course, much superior to a load of kids who weren't even music students but interpretively speaking I prefer sections of the LSSO as follows:

1) The pppp section before the storm is riveting by the LSSO. Brabbins doesn't achieve the stillness required. There's no feeling that something catastrophic is about to come.

2) The storm section is hair raising in the LSSO and quite sedate in the new recording. Those piercing trumpets and trombones are swamped in the acoustic and have no bite. It's all a bit tame.

3) Just before the return of the violin solo there is the famous chord that "stares sphinx like" according to Bob Simpson. The LSSO get this just right and it's a hair raising moment. With Brabbins it's just a passing chord with no feeling of doom or isolation about it.


4) The fact that the LSSO are stretched gives the music a sort of primitive feeling and there is the sense of sitting on the edge of a precipice all the time. This doesn't come through in the new version because the playing is so good that the sense of danger is missing.Overall, a lovely disc and I like it a lot. I still think that there is a place for both versions which is great testament to the LSSO.

How very interesting - thanks for posting this.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on March 16, 2011, 12:16:04 PM
Glad I'm not the only Bryden Thomson admirer in the world. His 'time' may come,yet! I know that some speak well of his V-W! I recently invested in some Barbirolli cd's,another conductor who is supposed to have been prone to indulge a little too much. Now I can't enough!
Regarding ELP's 'Pictures'. I remember we were listening to a broadcast of someone playing Beethoven or some great composer, I forget who, and getting annoyed by all the coughing. I remembered the,by comparison, hushed silence while Greg Lake,or was it Keith Emerson was singing some terrible words to Mussorgsky on the ELP album & thinking well,no one's going to distract a genius like that with a bit of coughing,but poor old Beethoven.!
I've been meaning to buy the cd for years,but for some reason never do. Maybe one fine day!
Incidentally,I understand that Jimi Hendrix considered joining them at one point. The new line up would have been,appropriately, HELP!
Alexander Gibson! I remember actually buying cd's of his Sibelius symphony in Boots the Chemist,of all places.  I love VW & I shall have to hear his Fifth.
One conductor I can't stand is Bernstein,except in American music,maybe. He was such so big headed. Although I read recently that he was interested in conducting the 'Gothic'. If ths IS true he has definately gone up a jot in my estimation.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on March 16, 2011, 12:16:22 PM
I think the main reason I prefer the 'new' Tenth to the old one has less to do with the merits of the orchestras concerned. The LSSO did a terrific job. That I have played their recording innumerable times the past 30 years says it all.


No, the thing that swings it for me is simply the conductor. Brabbins has a finer grasp of the Brian style. And he has an excellent sense of pace. One example out of many - at the beginning, just after the opening has ended, you immediately get a change in atmosphere:- a solo oboe and a muttering bassoon have a weird dialogue, 6 bars long, whilst a flute sings in the heights. In the Loughran the tempo is slower than Brian stipulates, making the whole thing sound ponderous. I always subconsciously skipped this passage and saw it as just a bridge to more appealing matter. But Brabbins plays it as Brian wrote it, and now you feel the tempo of the opening still present behind it, you feel that the story is continuing...


Brian once said of Delius' 'Mass of Life': Plot is always with us. And this is exactly what Brabbyns does - he tells a story, everything is subservient to an overarching view of the work. That's why the fact that certain things don't 'stand out' as spectacularly as in the LSSO performance don't matter too much to me - I feel at the end we have been on a very coherent journey, in spite of all the dazzling variety.

I can't follow the score but this rings true to me of the new recording.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on March 16, 2011, 12:18:05 PM
IS it true?
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on March 16, 2011, 12:21:05 PM
Glad I'm not the only Bryden Thomson admirer in the world. His 'time' may come,yet! I know that some speak well of his V-W! I recently invested in some Barbirolli cd's,another conductor who is supposed to have been prone to indulge a little too much. Now I can't enough!
Regarding ELP's 'Pictures'. I remember we were listening to a broadcast of someone playing Beethoven or some great composer, I forget who, and getting annoyed by all the coughing. I remembered the,by comparison, hushed silence while Greg Lake,or was it Keith Emerson was singing some terrible words to Mussorgsky on the ELP album & thinking well,no one's going to distract a genius like that with a bit of coughing,but poor old Beethoven.!
I've been meaning to buy the cd for years,but for some reason never do. Maybe one fine day!
Incidentally,I understand that Jimi Hendrix considered joining them at one point. The new line up would have been,appropriately, HELP!
Alexander Gibson! I remember actually buying cd's of his Sibelius symphony in Boots the Chemist,of all places.  I love VW & I shall have to hear his Fifth.
One conductor I can't stand is Bernstein,except in American music,maybe. He was such so big headed. Although I read recently that he was interested in conducting the 'Gothic'. If ths IS true he has definately gone up a jot in my estimation.

OT. There is an excellent EMI double CD including Paavo Berglund's great performance of VW Symphony No 6 (there are very few good recordings of this work IMHO) and Alexander Gibson's recording of Symphony No 5 - with one of the most moving slow movewments of all. Barbirolli was very good in both these works too (EMI/Orfeo).
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on March 16, 2011, 12:26:44 PM
Ok! Once the Beethoven Sixth, (Karajan dg 1963,since we're talking about conductors) finishes I'm defiately bunging the  Brabbins 'Brian 10' back on. Roll over Beethoven. (For a while,anyway).
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 16, 2011, 12:27:52 PM
Ok! Once the Beethoven Sixth, (Karajan dg 1963,since we're talking about conductors) finishes I'm defiately bunging the  Brabbins 'Brian 10' back on. Roll over Beethoven. (For a while,anyway).


Very good. Report back!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on March 16, 2011, 12:33:04 PM
Yes,I have the Barbirolli,coupled with 'Tintagel'. Wish he'd recorded,or been able,to record more Bax. Oh well! Off to have a bit of supper now.
NB: Thanks for the cd tips! Berglund would certainly be an interesting choice for VW!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on March 16, 2011, 12:42:05 PM
Yes,I have the Barbirolli,coupled with 'Tintagel'. Wish he'd recorded,or been able,to record more Bax. Oh well! Off to have a bit of supper now.
NB: Thanks for the cd tips! Berglund would certainly be an interesting choice for VW!

OT

Well, we'll let you have some supper - here is the link:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Vaughan-Williams-Symphonies-Nos-Ralph/dp/B0018OAP2U/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1300307809&sr=1-1
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Christo on March 16, 2011, 05:55:45 PM
Glad I'm not the only Bryden Thomson admirer in the world. His 'time' may come,yet! I know that some speak well of his V-W!

Completely OOT in this `great reunification of weird old men (like I am ) in love with even weirder Havergal Brian symphonies' thread - but I happen to do.

Thomson's RVW cycle is my personal favourite, among them all. A pity he didn't live to do a complete HB cycle as well.  ;)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Mirror Image on March 16, 2011, 06:25:14 PM
I think it's astonishing that a composer like Havergal Brian, who is hardly acknowledged as one of the 20th Century's greatest composers, has this many pages in a thread when someone like Stravinsky, Bartok, Schoenberg, Ravel, Debussy, Janacek, Sibelius, etc. don't have that many at all? I don't think Brian is a terrible composer, so don't think I'm trying to be negative here just for the sake of it. I just think that his importance is of little significance compared to the composers I mentioned above.

Is the Gothic a huge symphonic work? Yes. Does it take half of the population of China to play it? Well...not really, but you might as well throw them in too, because you won't be able to hear them because the orchestration is thicker than pea soup. :P Does this mean that it can stand against such masterpieces as Mahler's 9th or Sibelius' 7th? Absolutely not. My point is that Brian's music has limited appeal, but it is hard to not be moved by some of the sections in Gothic. I just wonder why hasn't a better commercial recording come along of this symphony? Is the symphony so vast that it can't be captured live? I think with all of the modern technology we have today, this symphony could be performed and recorded much better. Since this symphony takes two orchestras: why not get the LSO and the CBSO together and I know it takes many choirs, so get these two orchestra's choirs and whatever else they need to together? On paper it seems like an impossible task, but it could be done. Cut the record in a cathedral where you can hold a huge orchestra and then....oh God who I'm kidding! We're lucky we even have a studio recording of it at all! Damn Brian and his giant ass symphony! :P

Sorry for the rant here folks, the meds haven't kicked in yet.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Lethevich on March 17, 2011, 01:13:59 AM
I love Brian but almost never listen to the Gothic. Some people can't seem to get past it - I find his later style (which is no less personal and individual than the composers you mention) more to my taste.

I don't really care for the supposed heirachy of composers. I'll acknowledge that a lot of people seem keen on it, but I'd sooner listen to Brian's symphonies than Schubert's.

Edit: elaboration, plus nice reply Jezetha :)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 17, 2011, 01:15:18 AM
"I think it's astonishing that a composer like Havergal Brian, who is hardly acknowledged as one of the 20th Century's greatest composers, has this many pages in a thread when someone like Stravinsky, Bartok, Schoenberg, Ravel, Debussy, Janacek, Sibelius, etc. don't have that many at all? I don't think Brian is a terrible composer, so don't think I'm trying to be negative here just for the sake of it. I just think that his importance is of little significance compared to the composers I mentioned above."

The indubitably great composers you mention don't have so many pages for the simple fact that their reputation has been made and is unassailable. They are so present, that we can't imagine them NOT being acknowledged as great. The time before they were a 'name' has long been forgotten. They have entered the canon.

Not so with Brian. During his lifetime he was mostly ignored, for a whole host of reasons. Brian had no connections and was socially awkward. The First World War brought the ascendency of Stravinsky and Schoenberg (to put it simply), and music that was a less conspicuously revolutionary development from several strands of nineteenth-century music was considered passé, as Progress was all. Now, in 2011, Havergal Brian is one of the best-known of the more obscure composers, mainly because of the 'Gothic'. The scale of his achievement is still unclear, as the vicious cycle of 'they don't play him, so he mustn't be any good, so we won't programme him' makes the discovery almost impossible.

Fortunately, there has been Robert Simpson, who was able to promote Brian's work at the BBC. That all the symphonies have been played at least once is due to him. And enthusiasts like me have taken the trouble - no trouble, really! - of taking Brian seriously and listen to everything that has been recorded and reading most of the things that have been written about his music. And when you have done that, and have lived with the music, there can be no doubt that Brian at his best has given us a few of the strongest and most original symphonies of the 20th century. And I don't mention the operas, because most of them are still terra incognita.

So, in conclusion - Brian is a great composer, but he still needs the advocacy. And that's why he gets all these pages here. With Stravinsky et al all you have to do is discuss recordings and performances. You don't have to prove Stravinsky's worth, because that work has already been done. But Brian is not in that position. And that's why his case still has to be fought for. Which I, and others, like to do...
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: mc ukrneal on March 17, 2011, 01:29:14 AM
I think it's astonishing that a composer like Havergal Brian, who is hardly acknowledged as one of the 20th Century's greatest composers, has this many pages in a thread when someone like Stravinsky, Bartok, Schoenberg, Ravel, Debussy, Janacek, Sibelius, etc. don't have that many at all? I don't think Brian is a terrible composer, so don't think I'm trying to be negative here just for the sake of it. I just think that his importance is of little significance compared to the composers I mentioned above.

Is the Gothic a huge symphonic work? Yes. Does it take half of the population of China to play it? Well...not really, but you might as well throw them in too, because you won't be able to hear them because the orchestration is thicker than pea soup. :P Does this mean that it can stand against such masterpieces as Mahler's 9th or Sibelius' 7th? Absolutely not. My point is that Brian's music has limited appeal, but it is hard to not be moved by some of the sections in Gothic. I just wonder why hasn't a better commercial recording come along of this symphony? Is the symphony so vast that it can't be captured live? I think with all of the modern technology we have today, this symphony could be performed and recorded much better. Since this symphony takes two orchestras: why not get the LSO and the CBSO together and I know it takes many choirs, so get these two orchestra's choirs and whatever else they need to together? On paper it seems like an impossible task, but it could be done. Cut the record in a cathedral where you can hold a huge orchestra and then....oh God who I'm kidding! We're lucky we even have a studio recording of it at all! Damn Brian and his giant ass symphony! :P

Sorry for the rant here folks, the meds haven't kicked in yet.
Yesterday, I was just thinking how this is one of my favorite threads on the forums. People are genuinely excited about the composer and that excitement is infectious. People are postive - I was thinking how all the 'nay-sayers' had somehow missed this thread and the thread was the stronger for it. I love how much I am learning from everything being posted. And though I have never heard the tenth, it has been fascinating to listen to the comparisons between the two versions dicsussed. And all of this in a civil manner too!

All I can say is, I hope it continues. Love this thread!!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Luke on March 17, 2011, 02:03:21 AM
I think it's astonishing that a composer like Havergal Brian, who is hardly acknowledged as one of the 20th Century's greatest composers, has this many pages in a thread when someone like Stravinsky, Bartok, Schoenberg, Ravel, Debussy, Janacek, Sibelius, etc. don't have that many at all? I don't think Brian is a terrible composer, so don't think I'm trying to be negative here just for the sake of it. I just think that his importance is of little significance compared to the composers I mentioned above.

In that little list of composers you mention some absolute giants, including two composers who will forever be right at the top of my own personal list of 'soulmate' composers (Janacek, Ravel*). Nevertheless, I quite understand why a thread such as this one can grow and grow, whilst ones for more established composers remain fairly stunted. It's partly for the reasons Johan and others give - essentially that there's so much to say about Brian, so many issues to be discussed, the vast body of music, much of it almost terra incognita but enough of it known, especially by the more intrepid Brianites here, for its quality to be well established; excitement about new recordings, performances, rumours of them too... rumours of a new Sibelius symphony recording are never going to be as exciting, are they?

There's also the fact that Brian is a symphonist, and symphonies to tend to garner a lot of attention. Of the composers you mention as not getting threads the length they deserve, Janacek isn't a symphonist. Ravel isn't. Debussy isn't. Bartok isn't. Stravinksy isn't, Schoenberg isn't. But Sibelius is and - guess what! - actually he does have a pretty long thread, doesn't he? So a composer of 32 symphonies, whose admirers are very passionate and whose work and its promulgation have so many facets worth discussion - of course he gets a long thread. And, as mentioned above, it's one of the finest threads on the board, too...

* what's odd is that Brian is on that list too, and so is Tippett....the fastidious Ravel fits rather oddly with that bunch!)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: John Whitmore on March 17, 2011, 03:00:51 AM
I've been listening to the new CD of the Brian Symphony No.10. This is the only Brian work that has any interest for me personally and I really admire it. None of his other music really does a lot for me (Oops, please don't shoot me Johan!!). I thought I would like to add a comment to this very interesting thread. I think Brabbins must know the LSSO version because it is very similar - but with proper tone and intonation!! This is superb but I still think the kids did a great job and they are outclassed but not disgraced. Now for my own verdict on the 10th, if you allow me. The LSSO acoustic was very dry and unforgiving - De Montfort Hall is beautiful when listening live but as a recording venue it doesn’t work. A bit more glow would have masked some of the intonation issues. The new CD is a bit too washy for my tastes and the horns and brass are often lost in the texture. Somewhere between the two would be perfect. The playing on the new disc is, of course, much superior to a load of kids who weren't even music students but interpretively speaking I prefer sections of the LSSO as follows:
1) The pppp section before the storm is riveting by the LSSO. Brabbins doesn't achieve the stillness required. There's no feeling that something catastrophic is about to come.
2) The storm section is like all hell broke loose in the LSSO and quite sedate in the new recording. Those piercing trumpets and trombones are swamped in the acoustic and have no bite. It's all a bit tame.
3) Just before the return of the violin solo there is the chord that "stares sphinx like" according to Bob Simpson (now there’s a great composer!). The LSSO get this just right and it's a hair raising moment. With Brabbins it's just a passing chord with no feeling of doom or isolation about it.
4) The fact that the LSSO are stretched gives the music a sort of primitive feeling and there is the sense of sitting on the edge of a   precipice all the time. This doesn't come through in the new version because the playing is so good that the sense of danger is missing.
Overall, a fine new disc and I like it a lot. I still think that there is a place for both versions which is great testament to the LSSO. I still recall the LSSO rehearsals quite vividly and remember how shocking the parts were. Mistakes all over the place and impossible page turns. In summary I think that the LSSO version has a feeling of discovery and an epic occasion to it. Despite the superior professional playing offered by Dutton this feeling of something special is, in my humble opinion, missing.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: John Whitmore on March 17, 2011, 04:23:59 AM
I see that Johan already posted the comments I made to him via email about the Brian 10 CD. Sorry to duplicate effort here. By the way, I'm the bloke who put the Unknown Warrior and Brian 10/LSSO Reunion clips up on YouTube. One final comment - Bob Simpson was superb with his support of the LSSO/Brian LP sessions and the brilliant Angus McKenzie gave him terrific technical back up. Brian was a nice change from the usual LSSO diet of Tippett, Ives and Hindemith but the music was only rehearsed fleetingly for the De Montfort sessions. The symphomies weren't part of the orchestra's regular repertoire. I recall No.21 having a run out at Loughborough but No.10 never saw the light of day. Just run throughs in Birstall and the De Montfort Hall session. To be blunt the LSSO were chosen because they were cheap and capable of giving it a shot without much fuss and limited time.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 17, 2011, 04:31:43 AM
I see that Johan already posted the comments I made to him via email about the Brian 10 CD. Sorry to duplicate effort here. By the way, I'm the bloke who put the Unknown Warrior and Brian 10/LSSO Reunion clips up on YouTube. One final comment - Bob Simpson was superb with his support of the LSSO/Brian LP sessions and the brilliant Angus McKenzie gave him terrific technical back up. Brian was a nice change from the usual LSSO diet of Tippett, Ives and Hindemith but the music was only rehearsed fleetingly for the De Montfort sessions. The symphomies weren't part of the orchestra's regular repertoire. I recall No.21 having a run out at Loughborough but No.10 never saw the light of day. Just run throughs in Bistrall and the De Montfort Hall session. To be blunt the LSSO were chosen because they were cheap and capable of giving it a shot without much fuss and limited time.

I don't mind the duplication - it's great you took the trouble of signing on in the first place, John! And now the comment is more authentic, as the horse's mouth itself is here...
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: karlhenning on March 17, 2011, 04:42:45 AM
In that little list of composers you mention some absolute giants, including two composers who will forever be right at the top of my own personal list of 'soulmate' composers (Janacek, Ravel*). Nevertheless, I quite understand why a thread such as this one can grow and grow, whilst ones for more established composers remain fairly stunted. It's partly for the reasons Johan and others give - essentially that there's so much to say about Brian, so many issues to be discussed, the vast body of music, much of it almost terra incognita but enough of it known, especially by the more intrepid Brianites here, for its quality to be well established; excitement about new recordings, performances, rumours of them too... rumours of a new Sibelius symphony recording are never going to be as exciting, are they?

Hard to imagine they would be, since the whole Sibelius cycle (and deservedly) has been recorded, repeatedly, in many parts of the world.

Quote from: Luke
There's also the fact that Brian is a symphonist, and symphonies to tend to garner a lot of attention. Of the composers you mention as not getting threads the length they deserve, Janacek isn't a symphonist. Ravel isn't. Debussy isn't. Bartok isn't. Stravinksy isn't, Schoenberg isn't. But Sibelius is and - guess what! - actually he does have a pretty long thread, doesn't he? So a composer of 32 symphonies, whose admirers are very passionate and whose work and its promulgation have so many facets worth discussion - of course he gets a long thread. And, as mentioned above, it's one of the finest threads on the board, too...

There must be a multi-textured answer here, but it is curious how symphony-centric The Turf in general, and GMG in particular, can trend.

Quote from: Luke
* what's odd is that Brian is on that list too, and so is Tippett....the fastidious Ravel fits rather oddly with that bunch!)

But any list other, would not be you, mon ami ; )
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on March 17, 2011, 06:25:05 AM
The new Dutton performance of No 10 is very impressive,but after much deliberation the earlier LSSO performance clinches it for me for precisely the reasons 'John' outlines better han I ever could.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on March 17, 2011, 06:26:44 AM
'than I ever could'! This is what happens when you're trying to do two things at once!
Anyway,it's the LSSO for me.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Mirror Image on March 17, 2011, 06:46:08 AM
Well its good that my unmedicated rant could stir up some more interesting discussion. :D I have read all the points-of-view and I'll have to dig my Brian recordings back out. I definitely want to hear the Gothic again anyway.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 17, 2011, 06:53:03 AM
@cilgwyn I can understand your preference. Hopefully, in 2050, a third performance comes around which will satisfy us all... ;)

@MI Avoid those meds and join us more often.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: John Whitmore on March 17, 2011, 08:05:50 AM
It's a pity that the great Eric Pinkett isn't around. He could look at this thread and record it again!!!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: John Whitmore on March 17, 2011, 08:32:27 AM
By the way,  somebody in an earlier post compares Brian 10 to the Symphony in One Movement (now called Symphony No.1) by Robin Orr. By pure coincidence the LSSO also played this under the baton of Norman Del Mar. The concert at Fairfield Hall, Croydon also included Checkmate by Bliss and Rawsthorne's Piano Concerto No.2. Alexander Gibson recorded this symphony for EMI but it doesn't really do the Scottish National much justice. It was probably just one of those days with a muddled recording and less than exciting playing. I have two versions that I taped many years ago and they can be found at a link I shared with Johan if you are interested (I can't work out how to add a link to this post!!). This is a taut, tuneful symphony with an excellent structure. The fizzimg string writing is a delight and the use of the timps is superb. It has a few Brian moments as well.......
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 17, 2011, 08:36:21 AM
By the way,  somebody in an earlier post compares Brian 10 to the Symphony in One Movement (now called Symphony No.1) by Robin Orr. By pure coincidence the LSSO also played this under the baton of Norman Del Mar. The concert at Fairfield Hall, Croydon also included Checkmate by Bliss and Rawsthorne's Piano Concerto No.2. Alexander Gibson recorded this symphony for EMI but it doesn't really do the Scottish National much justice. It was probably just one of those days with a muddled recording and less than exciting playing. I have two versions that I taped many years ago and they can be found at a link I shared with Johan if you are interested (I can't work out how to add a link to this post!!). This is a taut, tuneful symphony with an excellent structure. The fizzimg string writing is a delight and the use of the timps is superb. It has a few Brian moments as well.......


I'll help you out, John...


http://www.mediafire.com/?2bpq9932w1hl9 (http://www.mediafire.com/?2bpq9932w1hl9)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on March 17, 2011, 09:05:06 AM
Yes,Eric Pinkett with a professional orchestra,I like the idea. But would it have been as good? Sadly,we'll never know. Although maybe,one day,I'll get my Bryden Thomson Daniel Jones cycle,because he recorded allot,if not all of them for the BBC. Come on Dutton/ Testament,I'll buy them!!!
Have to say 'Mirror image' this debate has been going on for a very,very long time over the years & long before the internet. Over the years I've read all sorts of horrible things about Brian's supporters,not to mention his music. David Hurwitz's was one of the most memorable. According to him we're all bald,have rotten teeth & suffer from 'halitosis',if memory serves me correctly!!!!! He does seem to like some of his music though!
Here's to the 1,000.000th post!

NB: The debate here is certainly more genteel than some of the posts elsewhere regarding Henry Cowell. It strikes me that Cowell was someone who strove deperately hard to be a 20th c original all,or most of his life,yet ultimately failed,(even though I quite like his eleventh symphony!!!) Brian,on the other hand,merely had to crack his knuckles to be an original.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on March 17, 2011, 09:08:04 AM
I'll just have a look for me false teef now!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 17, 2011, 09:35:30 AM
I'll just have a look for me false teef now!

They're over here.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: John Whitmore on March 17, 2011, 10:41:07 AM
Johan, how did you do the linky thing to the Robin Orr? I'm impressed. Have you listened to it yet?
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 17, 2011, 10:48:01 AM
Johan, how did you do the linky thing to the Robin Orr? I'm impressed. Have you listened to it yet?


Will grab a bite shortly, but okay - when you write a post, you see a window. You can see a line of smileys and above them several icons - if you click on the third from the left, you get to paste a hyperlink. The second one from the left is for images.


As for Orr - haven't had the time yet...


Dinner!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on March 17, 2011, 11:00:32 AM
I'm pretty certain I've got an off air recording of the 'Orr' symphony on ye olde cassette somewhere. I will have a look for it (& click on that link!)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: John Whitmore on March 17, 2011, 11:42:07 AM
Just been having another scan through this thread. Bryden (Jack) Thomson, by the way, was a supreme professional. Orchestras loved him and he was very charming. The sort of bloke you would have a night out in the pub with (ditto Sir John). His way with Nielsen is well worth a listen. He was also a magnificent accompanist and had the ability to work very quickly and think on his feet. I put him in that category of unassuming pros - you know, Pritchard, Del Mar, Gibson etc. I'm no huge fan of Bax but of the three sets I seem to have accumulated I have a sneaking regard for Thomson and also for Lloyd-Jones. Handley is also very fine but I prefer his ancient LPs with the Guildford Phil. Pity they haven't resurfaced.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: edward on March 17, 2011, 04:54:44 PM
His way with Nielsen is well worth a listen.
Minor orchestra or not, I think that his recording of the 6th is something very special, one of the few I've heard turn its somewhat cranky and eccentric design into a thoroughly convincing narrative. And from the way they play on this recording, it's clear the sometimes wilful RSNO has bought completely into his vision of the work. A great recording, and I say this as someone who emphatically dislikes his Martinu set with the same orchestra.

If he could conduct a Nielsen Sixth like that, I do wonder what he could have done with Brian's often similarly cranky symphonies.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Mirror Image on March 17, 2011, 05:36:47 PM
@MI Avoid those meds and join us more often.

Maybe I will, maybe I will.  8)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on March 18, 2011, 08:28:53 AM
I've been listening to the new CD of the Brian Symphony No.10. This is the only Brian work that has any interest for me personally and I really admire it. None of his other music really does a lot for me (Oops, please don't shoot me Johan!!). I thought I would like to add a comment to this very interesting thread. I think Brabbins must know the LSSO version because it is very similar - but with proper tone and intonation!! This is superb but I still think the kids did a great job and they are outclassed but not disgraced. Now for my own verdict on the 10th, if you allow me. The LSSO acoustic was very dry and unforgiving - De Montfort Hall is beautiful when listening live but as a recording venue it doesn’t work. A bit more glow would have masked some of the intonation issues. The new CD is a bit too washy for my tastes and the horns and brass are often lost in the texture. Somewhere between the two would be perfect. The playing on the new disc is, of course, much superior to a load of kids who weren't even music students but interpretively speaking I prefer sections of the LSSO as follows:
1) The pppp section before the storm is riveting by the LSSO. Brabbins doesn't achieve the stillness required. There's no feeling that something catastrophic is about to come.
2) The storm section is like all hell broke loose in the LSSO and quite sedate in the new recording. Those piercing trumpets and trombones are swamped in the acoustic and have no bite. It's all a bit tame.
3) Just before the return of the violin solo there is the chord that "stares sphinx like" according to Bob Simpson (now there’s a great composer!). The LSSO get this just right and it's a hair raising moment. With Brabbins it's just a passing chord with no feeling of doom or isolation about it.
4) The fact that the LSSO are stretched gives the music a sort of primitive feeling and there is the sense of sitting on the edge of a   precipice all the time. This doesn't come through in the new version because the playing is so good that the sense of danger is missing.
Overall, a fine new disc and I like it a lot. I still think that there is a place for both versions which is great testament to the LSSO. I still recall the LSSO rehearsals quite vividly and remember how shocking the parts were. Mistakes all over the place and impossible page turns. In summary I think that the LSSO version has a feeling of discovery and an epic occasion to it. Despite the superior professional playing offered by Dutton this feeling of something special is, in my humble opinion, missing.

I'm surprised that if you like No 10 that you don't like 8 and 9 too as I find the idiom and appeal very similar.  No 8 is a masterpiece in my opinion.  Certainly Harold Truscott (the composer of another granitic Symphony which might appeal to Brianites) saw symphonies 8 to 10 as belonging together. I mentioned the Orr Symphony which I really like. It has a similar epic granitic feel but like Brian's No 10 is short - in one movement. Even more like Brian is Chavez's granitic Symphony No 4 - but other might disagree (although disagreement is rare on this forum  ;D)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: karlhenning on March 18, 2011, 08:33:33 AM
I love Brian but almost never listen to the Gothic. Some people can't seem to get past it . . . .

Some folks are like that with L’oiseau de feu, for Stravinsky.

I have more absorption of the Gothic ahead of me, but  I enjoyed the later symphonies in the other Naxos disc I fetched in even better in some ways.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on March 18, 2011, 08:37:46 AM
We'll have start a Bryden Thomson Appreciation Society. Haven't heard his Martinu.but much as I admire his work I can't really see him in that repertory. But then again maybe in the more relaxed symphonies? Sometimes the least critically rated  recordings turn out to be the most interesting. So,maybe I will take the plunge later on in the year. My own Martinu symphony cycle is the BIS Jarvi. Although my first encounter with Martinu was the Vaclav Neumann cycle. I recall seeing those Supraphon LP's with those wierd elongated heads on the cover in the record racks of Haverfordwest library,back in the days when libraries bought good hardback books & the nearest you got to Classic FM type type compilations were 'These you have loved'. I remember looking at those Lp's with their wierd cover designs and thinking WHAT'S THAT? Indeed,WHAT'S THAT turned out to some of the strangest most viscerally exciting music I'd ever heard. I even remember someone who had never heard Martinu hearing me playing one of the records & saying what superb playing it was.
These days it seems that no critic has a good word for poor old Vaclav Neumann. Was he REALLY that bad?
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on March 18, 2011, 08:39:18 AM
NB He introduced me to a wonderful composer,so thank you Maestro Neumann for that!
     Okay,back to Brian!!!!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Lethevich on March 18, 2011, 08:42:40 AM
Neumann is too unassuming and lacking marketing "wow" to catch the eye of some lazy critics :) More often than not, recordings of his that I have heard have been top-drawer.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Est.1965 on March 18, 2011, 08:52:43 AM
Johan, I took that copy of the tenth you posted earlier and see in the metadata it is James Loughran and the LSSO (what is LSSO?)  For some reason I don't know, I found this rather interesting.  On the playing of it, somewhere in the playing of it there are even similarities to Alan Pettersson.
I am now off to order some of the Brian that has been discussed.
I wish my fellow Scot Dundonnel was still active on this forum, he also has a significant insight into the works of Brian.

And Neumann was a very precise conductor, he is not for the masses but for the discerning masses.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 18, 2011, 09:03:42 AM
John, the LSSO is the Leicestershire Schools Symphony Orchestra. They made the first recording of Brian symphonies in 1972 (10 and 21).
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on March 18, 2011, 10:24:39 AM
After my pro Neumann rant (!),I notice that Hurwitz rates his Dvorak cycle very highly,if not the best available!
Hm! I'll have to get round to hearing that.
One conductor who for some reason or other bores the socks off me is Simon Rattle. I don't really know why but even his most highly praised recordings seem to make once only trips to my cd player. I did enjoy his recording of Maw's 'Odyssey' when it came out,though. Although I haven't listened to it since.
Another conductor who seemed to get allot of negative press years ago was Svetlanov. Thankfully,the tide seems to have turned in his favour.
Regarding the LSSO Unicorn recording,it would be really nice if someone could re-issue that on a midprice or budget cd. The original cd would,currently,cost me just over £30 on Amazon,from a seller.
Also,regarding the granitic sound of Brian's orchestra. I found the old Collins single of Harrison Birtwistle's 'Earthdances' in a box a couple of days ago. Playing it today reminded me of this. I wonder if Birtwistle has ever heard any Brian? The two composers aren't exactly soundalikes,but there are some strange similarities. The 'growly' bass & brass sonorities,and the feeling of some thing huge almost elemental & that word again,'granitic'!
You'll probably think I'm bonkers comparing these two!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 18, 2011, 10:30:03 AM
It's possibly their 'Northern grit' which connects the two...
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: karlhenning on March 18, 2011, 10:40:57 AM
What do they need, a neti pot, then? ; )
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on March 18, 2011, 12:07:33 PM
Of course I wouldn't care to compare a composer as lionized by the critics at Brian with a mere upstart like Birtwistle!!!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 18, 2011, 01:57:35 PM
Quite right, cilgwyn! ;)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Est.1965 on March 18, 2011, 04:44:39 PM
Don't worry cilgwyn, I had the balls to say he sounded a bit like Alan Petterssson at times (or vice versa) in that tenth.  Perhaps hallucinogenics have manifest in my coffee or something, I must re-listen to hear what I was on about...
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 19, 2011, 01:41:22 AM
I have more absorption of the Gothic ahead of me, but  I enjoyed the later symphonies in the other Naxos disc I fetched in even better in some ways.

Which symphonies, Karl?
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: karlhenning on March 19, 2011, 04:08:56 AM
17 & 32, Johan.

Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on March 19, 2011, 06:12:48 AM
Can't stand some of the Naxos recordings of Brian,myself,but the one pictured above is a 'good one'. I prefer the Hull Youth SO in the 'Festal Dance',though. It's more fun! (I just hope my s/h copy is ok! It's still in the post,as yet)
Strange cover design. Looks like an egg yolk!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on March 20, 2011, 06:53:43 AM
By the way,thank you to the Forum Member who sent me those recommendations. I accidentally deleted your emai after reading it, (my email put in the Spam folder & I meant to move it to 'inbox'!).
I am currently still waitng for that Hull Youth SO cd set. Will it live up to 'rose tinted' memory? The last time I heard them 'The Benny Hill Show' was still filling up our tv screens with scantily clad women & a pint in my local was around 50p! And,even more importantly,for me personally,will the cd player 'freeze' or even get past track '0'?!
To be continued........
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 20, 2011, 07:55:19 AM
My thumbs have been up for days already, cilgwyn.

One Brian remark - I love the conclusion of the Concerto for Orchestra. It's quintessential Brian, light and grand at the same time. It's IMO a stronger sequel to the coda of Symphony No. 20 (for the experts among us).
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on March 21, 2011, 11:58:51 AM
I'll have another listen to the 'Concerto for Orchestra' later.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Lethevich on March 23, 2011, 09:08:46 AM
The prices of some Brian books make my head hurt. I recently cheaply picked up these:

(http://g-ecx.images-amazon.com/images/G/01/ciu/40/dc/218de03ae7a06f04fb95d110.L.jpg) (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0800858441/?tag=goodmusicguideco) (http://img846.imageshack.us/img846/6145/havergalbrianonmusicvol.jpg) (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Havergal-Brian-Music-British-Musicians/dp/0907689191/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1300899374&sr=1-4)

The first of which contains an interesting essay on Brian, but no in-depth look at one piece (unlike some of the other composers included), with references to other books which are currently patchily available. The second is an interesting (and valuble) look at Brian's personality and interests - his advocacy of Arnold Cooke (based on some early chamber works) makes the Lyrita coupling seem even more logical.

The next logical step seems to be the Symphonies of Havergal Brian by Malcolm MacDonald, but these are out of print and attainable in variable condition and inconsistent bindings - does anybody know if there are any plans to reprint them at some point?

Does anybody have any comments on the others (excluding super expensive ones):

Havergal Brian and His Music (Nettel)
Ordeal by Music: The Strange Experience of Havergal Brian (Nettel)
Havergal Brian: Reminiscences and Observations (Matthew-Walker)
Havergal Brian: The Making of a Composer (Eastaugh)
HB: Aspects of Harvergal Brian (Schaarwachter)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 23, 2011, 09:32:53 AM
The prices of some Brian books make my head hurt. I recently cheaply picked up these:

(http://g-ecx.images-amazon.com/images/G/01/ciu/40/dc/218de03ae7a06f04fb95d110.L.jpg) (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0800858441/?tag=goodmusicguideco) (http://img846.imageshack.us/img846/6145/havergalbrianonmusicvol.jpg) (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Havergal-Brian-Music-British-Musicians/dp/0907689191/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1300899374&sr=1-4)

The first of which contains an interesting essay on Brian, but no in-depth look at one piece (unlike some of the other composers included), with references to other books which are currently patchily available. The second is an interesting (and valuble) look at Brian's personality and interests - his advocacy of Arnold Cooke (based on some early chamber works) makes the Lyrita coupling seem even more logical.

The next logical step seems to be the Symphonies of Havergal Brian by Malcolm MacDonald, but these are out of print and attainable in variable condition and inconsistent bindings - does anybody know if there are any plans to reprint them at some point?

Does anybody have any comments on the others (excluding super expensive ones):

Havergal Brian and His Music (Nettel)
Ordeal by Music: The Strange Experience of Havergal Brian (Nettel)
Havergal Brian: Reminiscences and Observations (Matthew-Walker)
Havergal Brian: The Making of a Composer (Eastaugh)
HB: Aspects of Harvergal Brian (Schaarwachter)


'Opus Est''s essay on Brian discovers a cruciform in the tonal scheme of the Gothic.
'Havergal Brian on music vol. 1' is an indispensable book for anyone wanting to know how Brian responded to the music of his time. Vol. 2 was published last year.


The essential books on Brian to have are the three MacDonald books and Schaarwächter's Aspects of Brian (which contains a selection of the best articles and essays from the HBS Newsletter). I don't think the MM volumes will be reprinted anytime soon (I can ask him). Perhaps when there is a new Brian Renaissance... But they are real classics.


Nettel's Havergal Brian: The man and his music is an update of his earlier 'Ordeal by Music', which stops the story in 1946, thinking Brian's career was over... It has a flavour all its own, because Nettel was a Potteries man, too, and knew the (musical) world Brian came from.
Matthew-Walker's book is for hard-core Brianites who want to have every snippet of info. I bought it from the author at the 21st anniversary of the HBS in 1995.
Eastaugh's book is still the only biography available. It's a bit on the sensational side and doesn't teach you anything about the music. Eastaugh's view of Brian is slanted, and the man comes across as quite the egotistic artist, sometimes given to histrionics. I have read the book twice, and I forget every time what I have been reading...
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: karlhenning on March 23, 2011, 09:35:38 AM
Most interesting, thank you, Johan.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Lethevich on March 23, 2011, 10:09:39 AM
Thank you for the guidance, Johan!

I'll pick up the Schaarwächter, probably the Nettel too.* I'll wait on the reply about the symphonies volumes if it's not too much trouble - I am not expecting anything positive, but it's worth a try: I really dislike those dirty ex-library volumes :(

One fascinating thing the Opus Est book mentions is that the MacDonald volumes were seemingly written to be read along with the score or to a recording of the music, and the author notes that the books will become increasingly valuble as Brian's music gains more exposure. I feel very fortunate to be around when most of his symphonies are easily available in recordings.

*Edit: just clicked buy on both.

Edit2: Listening to the Lyrita recording of the 6th - I keep remembering Brian's style from his later works, and tend to be shocked whenever I encounter moments like 10:50 (going on for several minutes) in his output. It's amongst the most beautiful music I can recall, and the context only heightens its impact. There are moments that remind me of Truscott's "elegy" for strings, which only makes me feel more strongly the loss for Truscott's inability to complete his compositions.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 23, 2011, 12:11:34 PM
Thank you for the guidance, Johan!

I'll pick up the Schaarwächter, probably the Nettel too.* I'll wait on the reply about the symphonies volumes if it's not too much trouble - I am not expecting anything positive, but it's worth a try: I really dislike those dirty ex-library volumes :(

One fascinating thing the Opus Est book mentions is that the MacDonald volumes were seemingly written to be read along with the score or to a recording of the music, and the author notes that the books will become increasingly valuble as Brian's music gains more exposure. I feel very fortunate to be around when most of his symphonies are easily available in recordings.

*Edit: just clicked buy on both.

Edit2: Listening to the Lyrita recording of the 6th - I keep remembering Brian's style from his later works, and tend to be shocked whenever I encounter moments like 10:50 (going on for several minutes) in his output. It's amongst the most beautiful music I can recall, and the context only heightens its impact. There are moments that remind me of Truscott's "elegy" for strings, which only makes me feel more strongly the loss for Truscott's inability to complete his compositions.


Truscott's Elegy is a wonderful piece, I agree. And that tenderness is in Brian, too. Not only in that lovely and moving passage in the Tragica you are referring to, but even as late as Symphony No. 24, whose final Adagio is among the most beautiful things Brian ever wrote. I hope the Naxos recording will do it justice...


I read Opus Est more than 30 years ago, when I was 18. The Amsterdam Public Library's music department must have had a Brianite librarian, because everything was there - a copy of the Gothic, MacDonald's books, Nettel's, Eastaugh's, Foreman's (Havergal Brian and the perfomance of his orchestral music, with lots of tantalising pictures - I could only guess at what the music sounded like, as there were so few recordings!) Quite incredible, come to think of it! The beauty of being faithful to your enthusiasms is that one day you get into contact with a MacDonald and a Rapoport. I now 'know' them both on Facebook, and was able to express my gratitude for their writings on Brian. I'll send MacDonald a message. I seem to remember reading that the Society had bought up all the remaining stock of his study from the publisher and offered all three for a certain sum (not too expensive).
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Luke on March 23, 2011, 12:30:21 PM
The Macdonald symphonies volumes are just masterpieces of musical writing, full stop. I can think of few better and more involving 'reads' in music literature* - passionate, highly knowledgable (we are clearly in the hands of someone who knows the subject better than anyone else), fabulously thought-through and structured, beatifully written (MM finds the perfect metaphors time and again); both analytically insightful and revelatory/moving on a personal level, and able to bind all of this into a coherent whole which gives a fine impression of the man and his music. Everything rings very true.


*some of those that come closest are by MM too - he's really a great writer!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 23, 2011, 12:39:20 PM
Complete agreement here, Luke. Discovering that first volume on a library shelf, age 16, when I was looking for something about Bruckner, changed my life.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on March 23, 2011, 02:18:10 PM
And this fool sold his copies on Amazon a couple of years ago! That was after some of those Naxos recordings put me off Brian for a while. Also,most of the cassettes I had got destroyed by dodgy machines so there was no alternative.
The 'Second age of Brian' for me proved to be the  emergence of the Boult Gothic on cd. Suddenly I realised it wasn't Brian at all it was those horrid Marco Polo/ Naxos cd's!
 Since then I have re-stocked my 'library' with the off air performances I lost & replaced the Lp's I sold with the cd equivalents.
  Some of the Naxos performances ARE okay,but in my humble opinion,at least to my ears,the performances of the 'Gothic', 'Das Siegeslied' & Symphony No 2 are insufferable!
  I thoroughly agree with the comments here about Malcolm MacDonald's books about the Symphonies. They are simply marvellous. I had them all! You can of course get along without them I suppose,but it is a little like going out to some unknown & difficult terrain without a very good ordnance survey map.
Pleeease re-publish them somebody!!!!!!!!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on March 23, 2011, 02:19:56 PM
Malcolm Macdonald is a bit of a genius himself!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 23, 2011, 02:48:19 PM
Okay - how I rate the Naxos recordings...


Symphony No. 1 "Gothic"
- I am not as dismissive as cilgwyn. Every "Gothic" performance is a blessing, and this one is certainly more than acceptable, in my opinion. I prefer Boult for his choice of tempi and his firm structural grip, but Lenard certainly does not misrepresent the score. The Schmidt performance sits somewhere in the middle. It will be very interesting to see what Brabbins will do. And we still have to find out what the Brisbane "Gothic" was like.

Symphony No. 2
+ Festival Fanfare - Largely bad. Though I find the quality of the playing in the Second Symphony improves per movement, making the final movement, Lento maestoso e mesto, quite impressive. The Festival fanfare is terribly timid and sluggish. It can be a very strong piece, as short as it is.

Symphony No. 4 'Das Siegeslied' + Symphony No. 12 - This CD gets you acquainted with the notes, but both can be so much stronger. Until now the Del Mar 12 from 1966 is the best performance. As for 4, the Poole performance from 1974 is better.

Violin Concerto + Symphony No. 18 + The Jolly Miller - The rich Violin Concerto is persuasively played by Marat Bisengaliev. I saw and heard him play it live, and that was even better... No. 18 gets a stronger performance in a BBC radio performance.

Symphonies Nos. 11 & 15 + Doctor Merryheart + For Valour - A good disc overall. Opening slow movement of 11 a bit too quick, though (the reissued historic performance on Dutton is better), and No. 15 is stronger in a BBC radio recording. But the two tone poems are well done.

Symphonies Nos. 17 & 32 + In Memoriam + Festal Dance - A good disc, too. I prefer the BBC 17 though, it's tougher, more fiery, and the ending is like the wrath of a god.

Symphonies Nos. 20 & 25 + Fantastic Variations on an Old Rhyme - Another good disc. I miss the organ at the climax of the Fantastic Variations. The Hull Youth Orchestra does this better...

And here endeth the lesson.

Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Lethevich on March 23, 2011, 03:08:05 PM
The 2nd is a work that could potentially draw in some interest from non-Brianites, providing it was well-performed and recorded. It exists in a broody post-Mahler/Elgar soundworld that is quite accessable, although still a very mature work full of the composer's stylistic fingerprints. Of all his symphonies I feel that a label like Chandos could do this piece great justice - perhaps coupled with a single-movement work by a more familiar composer to draw upon a wider fanbase. (Although I hope that it wouldn't include those multiple arbitrary index points that the Marco Polo discs do - the can be quite disconcerting - Mahler's 9th didn't need them, and perhaps neither should this work.)

Speaking of his underrated symphonies, what do you folks think of his 5th? It is rather charming although the rare inclusion of a soloist took me a while to get used to (I am not familiar with Brian's songs or opera). It seems to exist as a missing link between his earlier vocal symphonies and his later compact ones.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 23, 2011, 03:21:14 PM
You're right about No. 2, though I don't think the first movement is among Brian's best - the central idea is too weak to carry the structural weight. The opening itself is great and looming, but the mountain gives birth to a mouse. I think No. 3 is the work Chandos should do. The Hyperion recording suffers from a too dry acoustic. It was recorded at the Maida Vale studio in London in (iirc) 1988. I attended a radio performance of the work and noticed even then that the music fell flat, having no space to breathe in.

As for No. 5 - wonderful work! Very spare and atmospheric. Brian Rayner Cook (no final e, as I wrongly thought) is in top form in the performance he gave at the Brian Centenary Festival in 1976. Judge for yourselves...


http://www.mediafire.com/file/zmgnn31swnu/Brian%205%20%28Rayner%20Cooke%29.mp3 (http://www.mediafire.com/file/zmgnn31swnu/Brian%205%20%28Rayner%20Cooke%29.mp3)


I know Brian's songs from an LP (now CD at Toccata) Cook made with Roger Vignoles - there are some gems there. Of the operas I know 'The Tigers' very well, and the 'Faust' Prologue. I have also heard 'Agamemnon' and 'The Cenci' (live, on the South Bank). 'Turandot' I only know from the wonderful and colourful orchestral suites, which Toccata already has recorded (iirc), and will be issuing later this year.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Lethevich on March 23, 2011, 03:27:10 PM
'Turandot' I only know from the wonderful and colourful orchestral suites, which Toccata already has recorded (iirc), and will be issuing later this year.

Can't wait for that second volume. I have yet to play the new three (two on Dutton) because I feel that I need to familiarise myself with the older recordings a little more before I move onto them - I don't want to spoil myself only to find that the older recordings are then unlistenable...

It's funny thinking about that Hyperion 3rd. I'm sure that if Chandos recorded it at the same time we would have the opposite complaint - too boomy and blurred ;) The label seem to have long-since gotten that problem under control, though.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 23, 2011, 03:37:36 PM
Can't wait for that second volume. I have yet to play the new three (two on Dutton) because I feel that I need to familiarise myself with the older recordings a little more before I move onto them - I don't want to spoil myself only to find that the older recordings are then unlistenable...

It's funny thinking about that Hyperion 3rd. I'm sure that if Chandos recorded it at the same time we would have the opposite complaint - too boomy and blurred ;) The label seem to have long-since gotten that problem under control, though.

Only the 10th and the Fifth English Suite have been recorded before. The rest is all new (forgetting the radio performances of some of them). I personally don't think the new recordings have rendered the old ones completely obsolete. The Leicestershire Schools Symphony Orchestra did a splendid job (I still prefer their Suite to the one on Toccata, though the playing there is technically better).


I don't mind a boomy Brian...
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on March 24, 2011, 04:21:27 AM
The 2nd is a work that could potentially draw in some interest from non-Brianites, providing it was well-performed and recorded. It exists in a broody post-Mahler/Elgar soundworld that is quite accessable, although still a very mature work full of the composer's stylistic fingerprints. Of all his symphonies I feel that a label like Chandos could do this piece great justice - perhaps coupled with a single-movement work by a more familiar composer to draw upon a wider fanbase. (Although I hope that it wouldn't include those multiple arbitrary index points that the Marco Polo discs do - the can be quite disconcerting - Mahler's 9th didn't need them, and perhaps neither should this work.)

Speaking of his underrated symphonies, what do you folks think of his 5th? It is rather charming although the rare inclusion of a soloist took me a while to get used to (I am not familiar with Brian's songs or opera). It seems to exist as a missing link between his earlier vocal symphonies and his later compact ones.

I agree, I've come to appreciate Symphony No 2 more and more.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 24, 2011, 04:34:21 AM
I agree, I've come to appreciate Symphony No 2 more and more.


Glad to hear it... For the record - my criticism only applies to the first movement. The slow second movement, for instance, has one of the most thrilling exchanges among the brass in the whole of the Brian canon.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on March 24, 2011, 07:26:34 AM
Before I upset anyone here,I would like to point out that my reactions to the Naxos recordings are largely subjective & in fact only apply to the cd's I mentioned. But,as someone who used,as a teenager, to selfishly brain my family with regular traversals of Havergal Brian's output,including the 'Gothic' at full blast, I can only say that I was obsessed with Havergal brian for years. Yet after my initial enthusiasm for the Marco Polo 'Gothic',every single Naxos cd seemed only to confirm my opinion that some of Brian's most ardent critics might actually be right.
Then along came the Testament release of the 'Gothic' & suddenly I'm a Brian admirer all over again!
Having said that,I have to admit that the choirs on the Marco Polo recordings are absolutely marvellous!
The last three Naxos cd's are excellent,although I have to admit to preferring the old Ralph Holmes recording of the Violin Concerto,tut!tut!. I find the Naxos too rushed. Although,maybe that's the correct way to perform it?! I must say,I really do wish someone would release that performance on cd one day. I had a horrific accident with my cassette copy. I accidentally taped over the last few bars! I was gutted!!!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 24, 2011, 07:40:18 AM
I love the old Ralph Holmes performance, cilgwyn, and in some respects I prefer it too.


I was fortunate - I became a member of the HBS in 1983. I got into contact with British members, visited them, and they began sending me copies of all the tapes they had. Some BBC performances have still not been bettered - 2 Mackerras, 7 Newstone (! though the EMI recording with Mackerras is excellent overall), 11 Newstone, 12 Del Mar, 15 Pope, 17 Pope, 18 Fairfax... I could remain an enthusiast, because I knew how good these works could be.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on March 24, 2011, 11:42:11 PM
I just drove past a double-decker bus called 'Havergal Brian' on my way into work this morning!  I work in Brighton - not far from Shoreham where the great man lived for many years. I suspect that he would have been amused.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 24, 2011, 11:49:19 PM
Ah! A sighting in the wild of that fabled vehicle! Terrific. Somewhere in this thread I posted a photo. There is a website devoted to all those named Brighton buses...
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on March 24, 2011, 11:50:31 PM
Ah! A sighting in the wild of that fabled vehicle! Terrific. Somewhere in this thread I posted a photo. There is a website devoted to all those named Brighton buses...

I thought of you immediately.  8)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 24, 2011, 11:54:32 PM
Yep. I'm madness on wheels. With three side drums and a wind machine.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 25, 2011, 12:27:01 AM
Behold the Bus itself!


(http://history.buses.co.uk/history/fleethist/images/hbrian1.jpg)



Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Luke on March 25, 2011, 02:01:06 AM
....and on its limitless heaving seats....
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on March 25, 2011, 02:03:20 AM
Behold the Bus itself!


(http://history.buses.co.uk/history/fleethist/images/hbrian1.jpg)

That's the one !
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: John Whitmore on March 25, 2011, 02:12:22 AM
Nice bus. Is it designed with Brian's music in mind? Noisy, unreliable, erratic, awkward gear changes, makes surprse turns at the most unexpected times, not many people appreciate it, rarely used by the bus company and has it's own on-line thread entitled "A great, unappreciated British bus". I'm in a mischievous mood today so please don't be offended. Listened to the LSSO 10th again last night followd by the new version. Had the LSSO been in tune they would win hands down. More tension and atmosphere. More sense of occasion.  I blame Eric Pinkett for not teaching us properly. On the advice of this thread I also gave the 8th yet another chance. Sorry, didn't like it. Johan, I've also ploughed through your files and listened again. Still don't get it. Maybe this isn't for me. I prefer the Robin Orr and Simpson's symphonies by a huge distance. Must go, I want to listen to The Midsummer Marriage.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 25, 2011, 02:18:37 AM
Nice bus. Is it designed with Brian's music in mind? Noisy, unreliable, erratic, awkward gear changes, makes surprse turns at the most unexpected times, not many people appreciate it, rarely used by the bus company and has it's own on-line thread entitled "A great, unappreciated British bus". I'm in a mischievous mood today so please don't be offended. Listened to the LSSO 10th again last night followd by the new version. Had the LSSO been in tune they would win hands down. More tension and atmosphere. More sense of occasion.  I blame Eric Pinkett for not teaching us properly. On the advice of this thread I also gave the 8th yet another chance. Sorry, didn't like it. Johan, I've also ploughed through your files and listened again. Still don't get it. Maybe this isn't for me. I prefer the Robin Orr and Simpson's symphonies by a huge distance. Must go, I want to listen to The Midsummer Marriage.


I can appreciate your humour, John. A pity you and Brian don't seem to get along. I wonder what it is about the 10th that it's the only symphony you can connect with... As for the 10th - maybe a third recording will combine the best aspects of the first two: the fiery playing of the Loughran and the structural grasp and compelling tempi of the Brabbins. Good luck with Tippett!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: John Whitmore on March 25, 2011, 02:27:08 AM
The 10th has two or three good ideas and it works as a structure. It's not really a symphony, it's more of a symphonic poem in my view. It never gets bogged down and it doesn't suffer from hollow gestures. The scoring is actually very good and even in the Storm section you can here what is going on. I really rate it. Everything else I've tried (and I have) seems really uninspired. 21 and 22 (both LSSO) are patchy. With Mozart there's not a note too many. Nielsen has a clarity and purpose about him. I love these two composers. I'm no fan (or Fand!!) of Bax and Brian strikes me as being in a similar league. For every 30 seconds of inspiration - and there are many such moments - you have to plough through 10 minutes of pretty poor stuff. Only my opinion of course. I admire you Brianites and please keep at it. You clearly love the bloke's stuff and are doing a great job in trying to keep him alive. I fear it's an uphill struggle. There isn't a major international conductor playing Brian. The demise of the Marco Polo cycle summed it all up for me but to be fair most of the playing on those CDs is third rate. I have them all and it's only the Violin Concerto disc that offers real quality. The Hyperion 3rd is also not too clever. Since the early 70s I've had a fascination for Brian but the reality is that for all that fascination I don't care much for the dots he's put on the page. Sorry chaps!!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 25, 2011, 02:44:02 AM
I like Bax, too, especially symphonies 1, 2 and 3. And Nielsen. And Simpson. But there is something in Brian's music that I respond to even more strongly. It's the sound, it's the unexpectedness of the structural processes, it's the condensation of style which reminds me of Joyce, Hopkins and others. Ergo: I don't have any problems with Brian. He is my favourite composer, and I can listen to him every day.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: John Whitmore on March 25, 2011, 02:52:40 AM
BLIMEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 25, 2011, 02:54:20 AM
'Calm down, dear!'
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: John Whitmore on March 25, 2011, 03:20:30 AM
This board is clearly full of people who enjoy British Music. A fair few of you also mention the LSSO so I thought this may appeal. It's the first public performance of Tippett's Shires Suite, written for the LSSO and peformed by them under the baton of Tippett at the 1970 Cheltenham Festival. It's great fun. The folder also includes a terrific Circus Band by Charles Ives and a less than appealing and scrappy Rhapsody in Blue. Here's the link:

http://www.mediafire.com/?su6w8a4c2a01t
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 25, 2011, 03:24:43 AM
Thanks, John!


There is, btw, a Tippett thread here: http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,207.msg2689.html#msg2689 (http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,207.msg2689.html#msg2689)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Luke on March 25, 2011, 03:28:52 AM
But I wonder, John, if the fact that the only Brian symphony you like is also the one you have played in is not a coincidence. In other words, you know the piece well, you experienced it from the inside, (and at a formative age, too) and you 'get' it. I say that because although I can understand a listener enjoying the 10th but not some of the later symphonies, at least one of the symphonies you've expressed a negative response to - the 8th - is stylistically close to the 10th (the youngest of the three 'brother' symphonies 8, 9 and 10, in fact). Personally, I think it's an even better symphony (it's my favourite Brian symphony; heck, it's my favourite British symphony, and sometimes I am tempted to go much further...). Even more personally - I think this is only me! - when I hear the word 'symphonism' I always think first of Brian's 8th. It's a piece which doesn't pay lip service to symphonic form but which really understands what lies at the roots of that form and is thus able to reinvent it in a completely successful, compelling way. What you describe as working for you in the 10th (and I suppose by implication what you're missing in the others) - 'The 10th has two or three good ideas and it works as a structure' - holds doubly true for the 8th, IMO: a piece which rewrites what a symphony can be from the inside, an explosive confrontation between two musical types which grows ever more extreme until it bursts into the extraordinary final passacaglie: the sonata principle reimagined with complete conviction and purpose, expressed using material of a really high quality, not a note too many, every nuance memorable.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: karlhenning on March 25, 2011, 04:17:23 AM
....and on its limitless heaving seats....

It's the journey, not the destination . . . .
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: John Whitmore on March 25, 2011, 04:18:48 AM
A good theory Luke. I played the Robin Orr Symphony and Checkmate with the LSSO and love them both. Maybe I wouldn't feel the same had I not had the "inside" experience as a youth. Where your theory fails is that my affection for the 10th is matched by my total dislike of the 21st. Most of the LSSO shared this view, strangley enough. 10 appealed but 21 didn't. I hear nothing in the 8th to inspire. Indeed, I listened to it again 10 minutes ago and and got absolutely nothing out of it despite the advocacy of Groves. Stange, isn't it? The opening to 10 is one of the most gripping ideas in ALL music. It's just brilliant.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: karlhenning on March 25, 2011, 04:34:13 AM
I, too, am a great believer in how living with a piece as a performer in the ensemble is a powerful lever into the life of the music.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on March 25, 2011, 07:31:39 AM
A bit bigger & that 'Havergal Brian' bus would make a good desktop!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Luke on March 25, 2011, 07:39:50 AM
A good theory Luke. I played the Robin Orr Symphony and Checkmate with the LSSO and love them both. Maybe I wouldn't feel the same had I not had the "inside" experience as a youth. Where your theory fails is that my affection for the 10th is matched by my total dislike of the 21st. Most of the LSSO shared this view, strangley enough. 10 appealed but 21 didn't.

Except that, as I said, I can understand a liking for a 10 and a dislike for 21 - I'd find that very natural, they are in fairly divergent styles and 21 is much more laconic and thorny. It's more the liking for 10 and the dislike of the stylistically similar 8 which prompted my theory.

I hear nothing in the 8th to inspire. Indeed, I listened to it again 10 minutes ago and and got absolutely nothing out of it despite the advocacy of Groves. Stange, isn't it? The opening to 10 is one of the most gripping ideas in ALL music. It's just brilliant.


It is, that's true. But surely that odd little low brass + drums march-motive juxtaposed to those enormous empty spaces + horn calls is an equally gripping idea? (I speak of number 8 of course). As MM says, Brian has a way with arresting opening ideas - and as he also says, that of 8 is one of the most arresting and original of all.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 25, 2011, 07:45:23 AM
A bit bigger & that 'Havergal Brian' bus would make a good desktop!


Here are members of The Southdown Enthusiasts' Club spotting the HB bus...


(http://www.southdownenthusiastsclub.org.uk/images/photographers.jpg)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on March 25, 2011, 09:05:26 AM
It makes makes a change from trainspotting!
But would they get on a 'Harrison Birtwistle' bus?!!!
  Incidentally, my Hull Youth SO 2cd set finally arrived. As I half expected 'very good condition' was a broken hinge & a cd which 'froze & skipped' about 2 min 35 secs in (cd 2). The booklet & inserts were fine,however. Anyway,to cut a longer story short I put the faulty cd on my pc & made a cd-r which works perfectly in my cd player. So all in all I AM, strange as it may seem, very pleased with my purchase as sellers usually ask allot of money for this. Also,listening to the recordings brought back happy memories of the excitement of youthful discovery,when rarities like this were generally 'snatched' from R3 broadcasts or heard via C90 cassettes brought by the village postman. Furthermore,the commitment and zeal of these pioneers REALLY shines through. These recordings really AREN't just for the charity shop or archive interest only,these are performances that really ARE worth hearing even if the string section IS being audibly pushed way beyond Their limit. (Even I have to admit there are quite a few moments when you have to grit your teeth a little!*)
Such a pity their recording project konked out. I understand their 'recording' of Holbrooke was a bit of a disaster. Perhaps someone here could fill me in a little on some of the background here & what actually happened. Was 'The Song of Gwyn ap Nudd' (I think that's what it was) really that bad?
Also,I don't want to turn this into A Bantock thread,but very briefly has anybody ever heard this. It was released on Lp.

PS: Now to get compensation from that seller!!!

PS2: I hadn't heard those lovely Herrick settings before. (For some wierd reason I never got the entire set) A new recording is surely way overdue,as does the 'English Suite No 1' which has some gorgeous writing in it. (Please,pleeease let someone find his 'English Suite No 2!)

* like finger nails on a school blackboard!!!!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on March 25, 2011, 09:09:40 AM
PS3! Even I might like buses a little better if they named ours after Havergal Brian. But I don't think even local boy William Mathias  has ever got a bus named after him & I quite like his music,too!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: karlhenning on March 25, 2011, 09:33:04 AM
A Boston bus would have to be named William Billings, I think . . . .
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on March 25, 2011, 12:43:05 PM
Or take a ride on the Ethel Smyth!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 25, 2011, 01:08:54 PM
Or take a ride on the Ethel Smyth!


Reminds me of a thing that amused RVW in a musical lexicon - 'Harriet Cohen, see under: Arnold Bax'.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: karlhenning on March 25, 2011, 01:29:51 PM
Oh, dear, dear, dear… 
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on March 25, 2011, 01:37:16 PM
I must say I wAS tempted to word that a little more provocatively!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on March 25, 2011, 01:39:19 PM
Confound that 'w'!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: John Whitmore on March 27, 2011, 03:08:04 AM
Cilgwyn, you mention your compatriot Bill Mathias. I quite like his stuff. He has his own sound world and although there's nothing earth shattering to be found it is all very well crafted and user friendly. I assume you know the Sinfonietta from 1966. Another one of those pieces that landed on the LSSO music stands in hand written parts early in 1967. The first public performance was in Leicester in May 1967 under the direction of the composer. Here's a link to the LSSO Pye recording also conducted by the composer along with the Prince Charles Suite, Ridout's Concertante Music and Arnold's Divertimento. This was a single take effort one afternoon in De Montfort Hall in July 1967.

http://www.mediafire.com/?z9a9yk13d8d95
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on March 27, 2011, 09:25:48 AM
Nice bus. Is it designed with Brian's music in mind? Noisy, unreliable, erratic, awkward gear changes, makes surprse turns at the most unexpected times, not many people appreciate it, rarely used by the bus company and has it's own on-line thread entitled "A great, unappreciated British bus". I'm in a mischievous mood today so please don't be offended. Listened to the LSSO 10th again last night followd by the new version. Had the LSSO been in tune they would win hands down. More tension and atmosphere. More sense of occasion.  I blame Eric Pinkett for not teaching us properly. On the advice of this thread I also gave the 8th yet another chance. Sorry, didn't like it. Johan, I've also ploughed through your files and listened again. Still don't get it. Maybe this isn't for me. I prefer the Robin Orr and Simpson's symphonies by a huge distance. Must go, I want to listen to The Midsummer Marriage.

Ah, but the end of No 8 is my favourite Brian ending - mysterious, searching,poignant and oddly moving
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 27, 2011, 09:44:29 AM
Ah, but the end of No 8 is my favourite Brian ending - mysterious, searching,poignant and oddly moving


I agree. I just listened to that ending again. Everything is still and held in brooding suspension, but you sense the coming of night. I was suddenly strongly reminded of the classic final lines of Wallace Stevens's 'Sunday Morning', itself a searching poem about belief and unbelief:


We live in an old chaos of the sun,
Or old dependency of day and night,
Or island solitude, unsponsored, free,
Of that wide water, inescapable.
Deer walk upon our mountains, and the quail
Whistle about us their spontaneous cries;
Sweet berries ripen in the wilderness;
And, in the isolation of the sky,
At evening, casual flocks of pigeons make
Ambiguous undulations as they sink,
Downward to darkness, on extended wings.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on March 27, 2011, 10:49:12 AM

I agree. I just listened to that ending again. Everything is still and held in brooding suspension, but you sense the coming of night. I was suddenly strongly reminded of the classic final lines of Wallace Stevens's 'Sunday Morning', itself a searching poem about belief and unbelief:


We live in an old chaos of the sun,
Or old dependency of day and night,
Or island solitude, unsponsored, free,
Of that wide water, inescapable.
Deer walk upon our mountains, and the quail
Whistle about us their spontaneous cries;
Sweet berries ripen in the wilderness;
And, in the isolation of the sky,
At evening, casual flocks of pigeons make
Ambiguous undulations as they sink,
Downward to darkness, on extended wings.

Great poem Johan - never heard of it before and yes, it does seem appropriate for the ending of Brian's 8th Symphony. I'm writing to Brighton Municipal Bus Company to insist that they play Brian's 8th Symphony as a continuous loop on their 'Havergal Brian' bus - a treat for the early morning rush hour commuters and school children  ;D
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 27, 2011, 10:54:23 AM
I'm writing to Brighton Municipal Bus Company to insist that they play Brian's 8th Symphony as a continuous loop on their 'Havergal Brian' bus - a treat for the early morning rush hour commuters and school children  ;D


Makes sense.  :D
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on March 27, 2011, 12:57:58 PM
Ok,just back from 'hyperlink boot camp'!
Regarding Mathias. I like his music. Also the way allot of his music reflects his love of jazz. Definately underrated,although not an original like HB,to whom this thread is indeed dedicated. I didn't know he had any association of any kind with the LSSO,so it's rather funny I brought his name up. And talkng about funny,but not funny ha! ha! Funnily enough,I got hold of another Welshman,Daniel Jones's Symphony No 2. While copying it to a cd-r I found to my dismay that Grace Williams First Symphony was too long to fit,so I added Hoddinott's Seventh for organ & orchestra. Not a composer I usually warm too,but this,to use a decidely unintellectual term,is a bit of a cracker! And a little on the 'Gothicky' side,itself.
   Back to the subject of this thread! I have been enjoying the Hull Youth in their new cd incarnation & I think they sound even better than they did before. Although,at the same time.one part of me keeps thinking that this is the sort of cd reissue that confirms Lp enthusiasts feelings that good old vinyl sounds more lifelike.  I'm still a happy bunny though!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on March 27, 2011, 01:00:09 PM
I'm no engineer,but the sound quality reminds me a little of some of those very early Chandos cd's.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 27, 2011, 01:04:41 PM
Ok,just back from 'hyperlink boot camp'!


Poor you!


I'm no engineer,but the sound quality reminds me a little of some of those very early Chandos cd's.


Agreed. The music has room to breathe in.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Lethevich on March 27, 2011, 01:12:39 PM
Please feel free to begin a thread on Mathias - I strongly admire his first two symphonies and would love to see some more discussion on him (I try to recommend the Nimbus disc every now and again, but no takers - surprising, as the style seems bang on what some users of the forum enjoy).
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on March 27, 2011, 01:20:18 PM
I liked them,personally,but some critics used to grumble about them!  But what do they know. I recently bought the Bryden Thomson of Bax's Second Symphony, (I have had the box set for years). According some critics it's horribly reverberant. I bunged it on. Right from the opening,it sounds so exciting,so spectacular. What's their problem?
  Incidentally,in the circumstances,stating that 'I'm no engineer' has got to be a gross understatement.

Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 27, 2011, 01:21:53 PM
I liked them,personally,but some critics used to grumble about them!  But what do they know. I recently bought the Bryden Thomson of Bax's Second Symphony, (I have had the box set for years). According some critics it's horribly reverberant. I bunged it on. Right from the opening,it sounds so exciting,so spectacular. What's their problem?
  Incidentally,in the circumstances,stating that 'I'm no engineer' has got to be a gross understatement.


I love that, too! Wonderful. Give me symphonies 1, 2 and 3 with Thomson any day.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on March 27, 2011, 01:22:52 PM
Thomson's the best!!!!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on March 27, 2011, 01:26:12 PM
I'm suprised a Mathias thread had few visitors. He often got it in the neck for being a little too populistic!

Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on March 27, 2011, 01:43:02 PM
Sincere apologies for posting three in a row,but on the topic of sound engineering,I'm afraid I can't resist this one. I have been playing some early orchestral recordings. I just compared Tchaikovsky's 3rd symphony conducted by Albert Coates in 1932 (Biddulph) & the Naxos recording of the same work. I could swear that the 1926 recording is clearer,sharper and more detailed!!!!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on March 27, 2011, 01:46:16 PM
Apologies,I meant 1932.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 27, 2011, 01:47:38 PM
I don't mind your hwyl, cilgwyn...  ;)


I am savouring early Brian at the moment. The man was an original from the start, with a feel for orchestral sonority that is uniquely his own, as is his sense of structure. All he needed was a further maturing, but everything was there ab ovo.


P.S. You can use the Modify button to edit, cilgwyn...
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on March 27, 2011, 03:15:15 PM
Thanks. It looks like I might be using that allot!
I note the 'pianist' in 'Festal Dance'. Now that I definately missed in the Naxos. It doesn't sound zany enough without it, Although,it may have been optional?
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 27, 2011, 03:23:56 PM
A piano in 'Festal Dance'?! I had forgotten that. The organ in the 'Fantastic Variations' is optional, too, but I wouldn't want to miss it for the world!

By the way - I noticed a premonition of 'Festal Dance' in the final mvmt of the 1st English Suite...
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on March 28, 2011, 01:08:37 AM
Ok,just back from 'hyperlink boot camp'!
Regarding Mathias. I like his music. Also the way allot of his music reflects his love of jazz. Definately underrated,although not an original like HB,to whom this thread is indeed dedicated. I didn't know he had any association of any kind with the LSSO,so it's rather funny I brought his name up. And talkng about funny,but not funny ha! ha! Funnily enough,I got hold of another Welshman,Daniel Jones's Symphony No 2. While copying it to a cd-r I found to my dismay that Grace Williams First Symphony was too long to fit,so I added Hoddinott's Seventh for organ & orchestra. Not a composer I usually warm too,but this,to use a decidely unintellectual term,is a bit of a cracker! And a little on the 'Gothicky' side,itself.
   Back to the subject of this thread! I have been enjoying the Hull Youth in their new cd incarnation & I think they sound even better than they did before. Although,at the same time.one part of me keeps thinking that this is the sort of cd reissue that confirms Lp enthusiasts feelings that good old vinyl sounds more lifelike.  I'm still a happy bunny though!
OT
Coincidentally listened to Mathias Symphony No 1 last night (on a fine Lyrita CD with Joubert's equally good Symphony No 1). The Mathias has a great tune at the end - which I find very inspiriting.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: John Whitmore on March 28, 2011, 02:25:38 AM
More English stuff to consider. Although Tippett is my own favourite of the late 20th Century Brits I'm also a Bliss fan and was fortunate enough to have played under him with the LSSO. A true gentleman. Here's a link to the LSSO playing the brilliant Introduction and Allegro conducted by Sir Arthur. Scrappy in places and a horrid Decca recording (Studo 3 West Hampstead) but very uplifting music. I've also added on YouTube, in 5 parts, a documentary about the 1975 Leicester Haymarket Theatre production of Lady of Shallot from 1975 which includes a short section of Sir Arthur playing the piano in his London home. By the way, I took the HB Unknown Warrior documentary off my old YouTube channel but then reinstated it on a channel called john1951w. The cyberpolice tracked me down but hopefully they will now leave me in peace and let good old Havergal alone. I've updated the HB Wiki site to reflect this change and also added links to the 1998 Symphony 10 rehearsals. Scroll to the bottom. Terrible audio quality from 1998 but my camcorder was just about to die. I also mention Johan in the article. The 1st trumpet in 1998 is James (Jimmy) Watson. A really good friend who was principal trumpet with the RPO/Covent Garden/London Sinfonietta/Phil Jone BE. Prof Watson, head of brass at the Royal Academy, died suddenly last month aged 59. A true world star. I now cherish these fleeting moments of his playing and - as usual - larking about!! A great player but an entertaining funny bloke. Sitting next to him is Richard ("Bex") Bissill, 1st horn of the LPO. Here are the Bliss links:

http://www.mediafire.com/?kgiumma4lwm

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2-UQK_ZqZ0
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on March 28, 2011, 05:26:08 AM
I have all the Mathias Nimbus & Lyrita cds. I like all or at least most of his music. I think his concerto's & some of his choral music are of more than local (Welsh) interest. Daniel Jones is more thorny & perhaps less consistent,but he really does deserve & need a re-assessment. A complete cycle of his symphonies is long overdue.
  Regarding early Brian. I love that thrilling way he brings in that organ too! Listening to all those Hull Youth SO recordings, (incidentally,thank you to that dodgy seller!) really does bring home,at least for me,what's wrong with those professional Naxos performances. For example,Dr Merryheart,which usually eludes me,is an ear tickling bon bon of Beechamesque endearment in this performance. Yes,the strings are a bit scrapy & slightly off key,but the whole concoction just glitters. Which makes you wonder just what Beecham & the RPO could have done with it if they had been able to record it. As to 'In Memoriam'. Sorry Naxos,no competition! This youthful rendition is the real deal.The Naxos performance sounds flat by comparison. Where's the feeling,the passion? Playing Elgar's own recording of his First symphony earlier today only seemed to confirm my feelings about this.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 28, 2011, 05:32:14 AM
Nice post, cilgwyn! Yes, give me passion and enthusiasm and a few off strings don't matter that much. You get carried along. I, too, am much more positive about the HYO than I was 25 years ago.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on March 28, 2011, 05:33:30 AM
Incidentally is it only a coincidence that Brian &  Holbrooke composed variations on a 'three blind mice' theme around the same period?
Also,whatever happened to Tippett? You barely seem to even hear his name these days. Is Tippett a neglected composer now?!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on March 28, 2011, 05:34:59 AM
They're like 'The Two Ronnies'. They seem better now than they did then.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 28, 2011, 05:37:46 AM
'The Two Ronnies' - haha! 'It's good night from me, Havergal'...
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Luke on March 28, 2011, 06:18:46 AM
Also,whatever happened to Tippett? You barely seem to even hear his name these days. Is Tippett a neglected composer now?!

Not in my house he isn't, don't worry!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: karlhenning on March 28, 2011, 06:21:25 AM
I hardly feel that I've been neglecting him of late, myself . . . .
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: edward on March 28, 2011, 06:21:31 AM
This is resurrecting a comment from a couple of pages back, because every time I tried to do this post the browser crashed or I got distracted by work or something.

It's a piece which doesn't pay lip service to symphonic form but which really understands what lies at the roots of that form and is thus able to reinvent it in a completely successful, compelling way.
I think this is a perfect description of the success of the 8th. (It also would be a good description of some other eccentric yet symphonic works--Tippett's 4th, I'd say, or Langgaard's 4th and 6th.)

a piece which rewrites what a symphony can be from the inside, an explosive confrontation between two musical types which grows ever more extreme until it bursts into the extraordinary final passacaglie: the sonata principle reimagined with complete conviction and purpose, expressed using material of a really high quality, not a note too many, every nuance memorable.
Again, a perfect description, and this one I think could maybe be generalized somewhat: a rather fertile area in the 'post-sonata-form' aesthetic seems to me to be where a dialectical process fails, or isn't given time to reach synthesis, and some kind of new material undercuts it and provides a fitting conclusion. I'm thinking here, for example, of Schnittke (tonal/atonal mediated by some kind of musical found object, for example B-A-C-H in Quasi una sonata); Tippett (I'm thinking of the 3rd symphony and the way that the first three movements present a fast/slow dichotomy which can't be resolved because of the harmonic stasis latent in both types of material, but where a second dialectical process pitting the Schrekenfanfare against Tippett's 'blues' breaks this stasis); Ligeti (clocks and clouds resolved by a new type of material in the 2nd quartet or by the machinery going wrong in parts of the Chamber Concerto), not to mention the chorale with trumpet in Honegger's 2nd and the arrival of Es ist genug in the Berg violin concerto--of course Mahler's the unseen presence here and in Schnittke.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on March 28, 2011, 10:22:33 AM
And Havergal Brian ISN'T a neglected composer here!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 28, 2011, 11:23:36 AM
And Havergal Brian ISN'T a neglected composer here!


No, and this has even come to the attention of John Grimshaw, Chairman of the Havergal Brian Society. He finds it, he wrote to me, "amazing how long the Brian thread is when compared to many other composers!" But as Luke wrote earlier - there is still so much to discover and discuss. If this planet lasts another century, things might look very different for Brian in 2111...
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Scarpia on March 28, 2011, 03:29:39 PM
I actually have a Brian disc in my shopping cart.


 :)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Lethevich on March 28, 2011, 04:56:15 PM
That disc is a bulletproof choice - even if you don't find immediate access to Brian's style, only a puppy-drowner could dislike Cooke's 3rd :P
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 28, 2011, 10:03:13 PM
I am awe-struck, Scarpia. The Brianic world awaits your verdict with bated breath...
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on March 29, 2011, 05:42:11 AM
If you click on the album (above) the Amazon reviewer describes Brian's Symphony No 16 as mostly 'atonal rambling'!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 29, 2011, 05:50:03 AM
If you click on the album (above) the Amazon reviewer describes Brian's Symphony No 16 as mostly 'atonal rambling'!


The perpetrator is a P. Weber, from LA. Brian Vigilantes will know what to do - play No. 16 to the man as often as is needed to get him see the error of his way.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on March 29, 2011, 06:38:24 AM
I suppose some of Brian's later music does push the boundaries a little,but atonal? Maybe I'll have another go at my Roger Sessions cd. Now he IS atonal! (The only atonal cd in my collection. I'm open minded,but it just doesn't do anything for me).
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: karlhenning on March 29, 2011, 07:25:13 AM
"Atonal" is one of those words which often gets slung about by people who don't actually understand what it means ; )
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on March 29, 2011, 07:28:50 AM
Ignorance is bliss.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 29, 2011, 07:29:35 AM
Ignorance is Bliss.
Knowledge is Brian.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Brian on March 29, 2011, 07:32:56 AM
If you click on the album (above) the Amazon reviewer describes Brian's Symphony No 16 as mostly 'atonal rambling'!
What, no honking?


Knowledge is Brian.
0:)

Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Luke on March 29, 2011, 07:45:36 AM
I suppose some of Brian's later music does push the boundaries a little,but atonal?

No, he isn't, not even at his most extreme (I'm not sure that even the final crazy brass+timpani flurried in the Gothic aren't essentially tonal, despite everything). It's the elipticality and compression of Brian's thought which can confuse the ear, harmonically - but in fact, as a harmonist, looked at purely 'vertically,' he's not extreme at all*. It's not the chords themselves that produce 'the Brian sound' but the speed and fluidity with which they move.

* like Janacek, in this - the chords are mostly triads in both, in fact.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Scarpia on March 29, 2011, 07:53:49 AM
"Atonal" is one of those words which often gets slung about by people who don't actually understand what it means ; )

But they're the ones who really experience music the most deeply.   0:)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: karlhenning on March 29, 2011, 07:54:48 AM
Good thing I hadn't just taken a sip of my coffee!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on March 29, 2011, 07:59:56 AM
And can we please have a cycle of Roger Sessions symphonies. Seriously,Sessions IS an interesting composer,but sporadic helpings of just two or three symphonies,however well performed & recording,REALLY don't help. With a composer like Sessions you REALLY need to be able to follow the way his musical though processes evolve.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 29, 2011, 08:00:15 AM
No, he isn't, not even at his most extreme (I'm not sure that even the final crazy brass+timpani flurried in the Gothic aren't essentially tonal, despite everything). It's the elipticality and compression of Brian's thought which can confuse the ear, harmonically - but in fact, as a harmonist, looked at purely 'vertically,' he's not extreme at all*. It's not the chords themselves that produce 'the Brian sound' but the speed and fluidity with which they move.

* like Janacek, in this - the chords are mostly triads in both, in fact.


Correct. The biggest stumbling block is understanding Brian's way of thinking and structuring. And I must say - even I, who have no difficulties at all with his idiom, can't really put clearly into words how every section fits into the whole, and how and why Brian jumps from one thing to another. In his best works it all feels natural. Take the Concerto for Orchestra, just released by Dutton - how Brian manages to start out as grimly as he does and still end the work 'logically' in the most festive manner, I can't understand rationally, but I can feel it.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Mirror Image on March 29, 2011, 08:23:25 AM
You know I find it very curious that a company like CPO hasn't undertaken a Brian symphony cycle. It seems like this would be right up the label's alley? I mean they seem to make a habit of promoting more neglected composer's works. I mean they recorded the symphonies of Milhaud, Pettersson, Atterburg, Rangstrom, Frankel, etc., why can't they record Brian? The SWR Radio Symphony Orchestra would be the ideal orchestra for Brian I think. They have a great brass section. :D
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Scarpia on March 29, 2011, 08:26:36 AM
You know I find it very curious that a company like CPO hasn't undertaken a Brian symphony cycle. It seems like this would be right up the label's alley? I mean they seem to make a habit of promoting more neglected composer's works. I mean they recorded the symphonies of Milhaud, Pettersson, Atterburg, Rangstrom, Frankel, etc., why can't they record Brian? The SWR Radio Symphony Orchestra would be the ideal orchestra for Brian I think. They have a great brass section. :D

Well, I think there would no problem mounting a Brian cycle if enthusiasm for Brian on this board were matched in the world at large.  Naxos started a Brian cycle but was unable to sustain it.  If you consider the scope of Naxos's recording program, that says something.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Mirror Image on March 29, 2011, 08:31:47 AM
Well, I think there would no problem mounting a Brian cycle if enthusiasm for Brian on this board were matched in the world at large.  Naxos started a Brian cycle but was unable to sustain it.  If you consider the scope of Naxos's recording program, that says something.

Yes, I realize and understand Brian's neglect, but the same could be said for Pettersson, Atterberg, etc. and they're cycles were recorded. I don't know many people who are enthusiastic about Pettersson's music, do you? My point is CPO seems to be a label for neglected composer's music whether the works were popular during their lifetimes or not. I think they really need to do a cycle.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 29, 2011, 08:41:37 AM
The point is, I think: CPO is a label that favours Continental European music. Frankel was (iirc) German, too. In Germany British music doesn't have any prestige at all. Adorno castigated Sibelius, but since he died in 1969, Northern Europeans like S. were accepted more and more. There is a lot of attractive Scandinavian music. Also Dutch composers like Roentgen and Badings have been recorded by CPO. But British music is a vast territory the Germans have no serious interest in. I can't blame them, with some of the biggest hitters in history.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Mirror Image on March 29, 2011, 08:57:35 AM
The point is, I think: CPO is a label that favours Continental European music. Frankel was (iirc) German, too. In Germany British music doesn't have any prestige at all. Adorno castigated Sibelius, but since he died in 1969, Northern Europeans like S. were accepted more and more. There is a lot of attractive Scandinavian music. Also Dutch composers like Roentgen and Badings have been recorded by CPO. But British music is a vast territory the Germans have no serious interest in. I can't blame them, with some of the biggest hitters in history.

If Germans have no serious interest in classical music outside of their own country, what does this say about them? Are they so narrow-minded as a people that they are unwilling to accept other country's music? I don't think this is the case, but more of a case that they think their tradition is the one that matters the most. I happily disagree with this sentiment. Where I'm getting at is CPO, whether it was a Swiss label, a German label, a French label, whatever, I thought their focus was on filling in gaps in neglected composer's music? I mean do they not cater to the specialized market of classical listeners? Brian's music is definitely a specialized area of 20th Century music.

Anyway, British music is neglected because people choose to neglect it for some silly pre-conceived notions that have nothing to do with the music. There has been some amazing music composed in the British Isles. Like I said, I believe a Brian cycle is in order.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 29, 2011, 09:11:06 AM
I am all for a Brian cycle, but I don't think it will be forthcoming from CPO. A composer like Pettersson, for instance, is seen as a very interesting continuation of the German- Austrian tradition. Of course, Havergal Brian is, too, with even a setting of Goethe's Faust to his credit (in German!) But for one reason or another, Brian's love of German culture has not been reciprocated. There is one German music professor, who has published a big tome on the British symphony and he is a member of the Havergal Brian Society. But so far his influence has been negligible.

Another example: Delius. He was German himself, was played before World War I triumphantly all over Germany. But during and after the war that ended. For decades. Only now interest is growing again, a bit. Delius has had a volume to himself, for example, in the excellent series Musik-Konzepte, which I have read and from which I could deduce that British music is terra incognita in Germany.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Scarpia on March 29, 2011, 09:19:19 AM
In the end, they need to sell records to stay in business, and they I suspect any label considering a Brian cycle would be very wary after the economic catastrophe of the aborted Naxos cycle, which resulted in very expensive sessions producing recordings that didn't come close to recouping production costs and in some cases could not even be released. 

A British label like Chandos or Hyperion would seem to me to be more likely to undertake something like this, and Hyperion even recorded one of the symphonies.  If that release had been commercially successful, I'm suspect they would have done more. 

Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Mirror Image on March 29, 2011, 09:53:52 AM
Another example: Delius. He was German himself, was played before World War I triumphantly all over Germany. But during and after the war that ended. For decades. Only now interest is growing again, a bit. Delius has had a volume to himself, for example, in the excellent series Musik-Konzepte, which I have read and from which I could deduce that British music is terra incognita in Germany.

Don't get me started on Delius! ;) His neglect is completely inexcusable in my opinion. Thankfully, he had many champions: Beecham (who got the ball rolling), Barbirolli, Mackerras, Handley, Hickox, and now Andrew Davis (who has recorded some of his music before for Teldec, which is now on the Warner Apex budget line) and to a lesser degree: Groves, Davies, and Lloyd-Jones. We'll see what happens with this new Davis recording on Chandos.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Scarpia on March 29, 2011, 09:57:00 AM
Don't get me started on Delius! ;) His neglect is completely inexcusable in my opinion. Thankfully, he had many champions: Beecham (who got the ball rolling), Barbirolli, Mackerras, Handley, Hickox, and now Andrew Davis (who has recorded some of his music before for Teldec, which is now on the Warner Apex budget line) and to a lesser degree: Groves, Davies, and Lloyd-Jones. We'll see what happens with this new Davis recording on Chandos.

His major works are all available in excellent recording.  What basis is there for saying he is neglected, and who is it, precisely, whose conduct can't be excused?
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Mirror Image on March 29, 2011, 09:58:50 AM
His major works are all available in excellent recording, what basis is there for saying he is neglected?

He's neglected in the concert halls. I already stated that he had many fine champions, which, in turn, means he has had plenty of fine performances on record.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on March 29, 2011, 09:59:41 AM
Cpo have done a bit of Josef Holbrooke though. But maybe he fits in more with their repertory. Holbrooke definately has his own sound world,but with his tone poems and quasi wagnerian opera cycle he's almost an off shoot of their own tradition. Havergal Brian was very interested in German culture and undoubtedly got allot of inspiration from it,but even in a work like 'Das Siegeslied' or 'Faust' the only thing that's German about the music is the fact that it's in German! Holbrooke,eccentric,quirky & original as he is in his own way is essentially a late romantic. Brian on the other hand is much harder to pin down. Janus like,he looks backwards and forwards. Allot of people picking up that Marco Polo cd set of the 'Gothic' want something similair. Instead they get ' Das Siegeslied' and symphonies 17 or 20,which are about as different as the sun and moon! Wonderful for us Brian buffs,but some people aren't so willing to persevere. On the other hand,if you like Holbrooke's 'The Raven' there's a very good chance you'll enjoy his 'Amontillado'.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Scarpia on March 29, 2011, 11:04:32 AM
Apropos of nothing, I just ordered my first recording of a Brian work (the Lyrica release which includes the Cooke Symphony No 3).
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 29, 2011, 11:08:15 AM
Apropos of nothing, I just ordered my first recording of a Brian work (the Lyrica release which includes the Cooke Symphony No 3).


I applaud the deed to the echo (to quote Shakespeare, more or less)!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on March 29, 2011, 11:58:00 AM
The Cooke symphony has always put me off the Lyrita cd. I'm selfish, just want Brian! I had the original Lp all those long years ago & would have been quite happy with the playing time. On the other hand,you're cd of the Cooke wil probably sound a heck of allot better than my aged off air cassette copy. Indeed,I have even heard tales of people who prefer the Cooke!
  Fortunately, I can re-arrange the 'menu' on a cd-r & live happily ever after.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Scarpia on March 29, 2011, 11:59:10 AM
The Cooke symphony has always put me off the Lyrita cd. I'm selfish, just want Brian! I had the original Lp all those long years ago & would have been quite happy with the playing time. On the other hand,you're cd of the Cooke wil probably sound a heck of allot better than my aged off air cassette copy. Indeed,I have even heard tales of people who prefer the Cooke!
  Fortunately, I can re-arrange the 'menu' on a cd-r & live happily ever after.

I convinced myself to buy it by classifying the Brian Symphonies as fillers on a Cooke disc.  Sorry.   :-\
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 29, 2011, 12:01:47 PM
I convinced myself to buy it by classifying the Brian Symphonies as fillers on a Cooke disc.  Sorry.   :-\


Ever the joker.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on March 29, 2011, 12:12:22 PM
Sounds like you're glass is always half full 'Scarpia'.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Scarpia on March 29, 2011, 12:40:44 PM
Ever the joker.

Well, I really wanted the perpetually out-of-print Groves recordings on EMI.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on March 29, 2011, 12:59:48 PM
I was lucky there. I managed get the 'twofer' version,(with No 7),from my dodgy dealer. Now if I could get hold of a copy of the old LSSO Unicorn for at a similarly reasonable price...........
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: karlhenning on March 29, 2011, 01:05:01 PM
The State of My Own Private Brian Inquiry is: I like what I hear. I need to dig some more into the Gothic, which has registered a stronger impression than the other disc I've heard.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Scarpia on March 29, 2011, 01:12:26 PM
The State of My Own Private Brian Inquiry is: I like what I hear. I need to dig some more into the Gothic, which has registered a stronger impression than the other disc I've heard.

One thing I know, I never want to hear the "Gothic."  (I can't fathom chorus and orchestra pieces, generally.)   Which is the "other" disc?
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: John Whitmore on March 29, 2011, 01:16:55 PM
Cilgwyn, I think our friend from Holland may have a link to the Unicorn. If not then I am happy to share.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 29, 2011, 01:17:36 PM
The State of My Own Private Brian Inquiry is: I like what I hear. I need to dig some more into the Gothic, which has registered a stronger impression than the other disc I've heard.


You mean with Nos. 17 and 32? Well, the 'Gothic' is the stronger piece. But I like No. 17 in the BBC performance very much, too...
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 29, 2011, 01:19:38 PM
Cilgwyn, I think our friend from Holland may have a link to the Unicorn. If not then I am happy to share.


Well, I have 10 & 21 on standby, so to speak. But if cilgwyn really wants the CD...
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on March 29, 2011, 02:12:55 PM
No.thank you for the offer,but I think I'll resist for the time being. I think you need it more than me. Anyway,I have the cd-r's & to be honest I have just spent a bit of a packet on some historical recordings. Some very strange people actually prefer listening to a couple of blokes playing into a horn or a 1920's microphone rather than something in state of the art digital sound. (I've got Dan Godfrey's 1920's recordings of VW's 'London Symphony' on at the moment.) But not all the time I hasten to add!
Brian's 'Gothic' could have been recorded in 1928!

NB: Dan Godfrey strikes me as a much better conductor than the jobber he's made out to be by some,judging by these recordings. Very impassioned playing & the swish of the shellac only adds to the evocative atmosphere.
Symposium have done a good job. Recommended!!!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on March 29, 2011, 02:17:58 PM
Oskar Fried recorded Mahler's 3rd & Bruckner's Seventh in front of a horn. I reckon a 1928 shellac recording of the 'Gothic' would have been a doddle for him!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Scarpia on March 29, 2011, 02:18:58 PM
the swish of the shellac only adds to the evocative atmosphere.

Why not record the shellac swishing at the end of one of your 78s and superimpose it on those newfangled digital recordings.  Then again, why not have shellac swishers in the concert hall!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on March 29, 2011, 02:19:30 PM
Ahem,Second!!!!!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on March 29, 2011, 02:24:06 PM
I remember the first time I heard Elgar's recordings of his own music. I actually had this thought in my head. How do I KNOW it's really Elgar? It  could be some bloke in a studio mixing in a bit of snap,crackle and hiss. A bit of the old Joyce Hatto!
  Oh,and why not? A bit of shellac ambience. That's what computers are for. God,I could have saved myself a packet!!!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on March 29, 2011, 02:26:03 PM
Or I could discover a pile of previously unknown 78's of Oskar Fried conducting an abridged 'Gothic' in my attic. I could be famous!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on March 30, 2011, 08:41:35 AM
It just occurred to me that the liveliest performance of 'Dr Merryheart' after the Hull Youth SO one is the one on the Dutton cd of radio broadcasts. The Naxos comes third!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 30, 2011, 08:46:23 AM
It just occurred to me that the liveliest performance of 'Dr Merryheart' after the Hull Youth SO one is the one on the Dutton cd of radio broadcasts. The Naxos comes third!


Hm. That's with Del Mar, isn't it? It has been a few months, but I remember I thought he was a bit too slow in the great lyrical passage, making it sound too romantic = not totally Brianic.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on March 30, 2011, 09:58:25 AM
I'll have another listen.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: karlhenning on March 30, 2011, 11:23:37 AM
One thing I know, I never want to hear the "Gothic."  (I can't fathom chorus and orchestra pieces, generally.)   Which is the "other" disc?

The 17/32/plus Naxos disc that Johan wots of:

You mean with Nos. 17 and 32? Well, the 'Gothic' is the stronger piece. But I like No. 17 in the BBC performance very much, too...

FWIW, Scarps, the first rumor I heard of the Gothic (more than ten years ago), I wasn't at all sure I wanted to hear the piece, either.  The tempered enthusiasm here began to alter that, I was becoming somewhat curious about the piece ityself, and then Luke's advocacy sealed it.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 30, 2011, 11:35:33 AM
The tempered enthusiasm here


Understatement of the day.  :D
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: John Whitmore on March 30, 2011, 01:03:17 PM
Why not record the shellac swishing at the end of one of your 78s and superimpose it on those newfangled digital recordings.  Then again, why not have shellac swishers in the concert hall!

Reminds me of Charles Ives' famous quote: "What's sound got to do with music?". Perfectly true. I've been revisiting some of Walter Goehr's old mono Concert Hall records and the music making just makes you forget the sound quality. You just sort of listen through it.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 30, 2011, 01:39:26 PM
Reminds me of Charles Ives' famous quote: "What's sound got to do with music?". Perfectly true. I've been revisiting some of Walter Goehr's old mono Concert Hall records and the music making just makes you forget the sound quality. You just sort of listen through it.


I recognise this - the vision carries all before it, and the perfection of the recorded sound loses (some of) its importance. I had to use all my aural archeology to listen through muddy Brian recordings the past 25 years, and try to assess the quality of the works in question.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Scarpia on March 30, 2011, 04:27:38 PM
Listening the Havergal Brian, Symphony No 8, Groves.  Wow, this is good.  Howcome you guys never told me how good this stuff is?   ;D


Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 30, 2011, 09:44:12 PM
Sorry for having guarded Brian's music jealously for so long, brother Scarpia...


Here, btw, is a review (from 1978) of the Groves recording of symphonies 8 and 9, by David Rudkin. It is by no means uncritical of Havergal Brian, but fair. (I found it on that great resource, JStor, which I can access through the Royal Library in The Hague.)


http://www.mediafire.com/file/fkxd7k2xkrjscnw/David%20Rudkin%20-%20Review%20of%20Brian%27s%208th%20and%209th%20%281978%29.pdf (http://www.mediafire.com/file/fkxd7k2xkrjscnw/David%20Rudkin%20-%20Review%20of%20Brian%27s%208th%20and%209th%20%281978%29.pdf)


And here a review by Christopher Norris from 1975, of the Lyrita recording of Symphonies 6 & 16 and the CBS recording with Symphony No. 22, Psalm 23 and the English Suite No. 5 (with the LSSO):


http://www.mediafire.com/file/ttk8pf7h2qcq5y5/Review%20by%20Christopher%20Norris%20of%20the%20Lyrita%20and%20CBS%20Brian%20LPs.pdf
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 31, 2011, 02:57:08 AM
(http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5286/5359776762_5ff9aa7ea3_z.jpg)


A nice photo (by Calotyp46 on Flickr) of a bust of HB by sculptor Richard Thomas, as exhibited at the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Hanley, Staffordshire.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: karlhenning on March 31, 2011, 03:32:29 AM
Really sporting of Aaron Copland to sit as a model for another composer's bust!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 31, 2011, 03:35:38 AM
Really sporting of Aaron Copland to sit as a model for another composer's bust!


That's the kind of guy he was. Havergal was off writing another symphony.


 :D
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: karlhenning on March 31, 2011, 04:47:01 AM

That's the kind of guy he was. Havergal was off writing another symphony.

 :D

He certainly makes Aaron seem . . . lazy by comparison ; )
 
Havergal Brian Symphony #8 B flat minor, Groves conducting the RLPO

(http://photos.imageevent.com/sgtrock/gm2/Brian78931.jpg)

Sarge

You guys! (Aye, Scarps, too.)  As my final music purchase for a month, I went and pulled the trigger on this two-fer.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 31, 2011, 06:13:57 AM
You guys! (Aye, Scarps, too.)  As my final music purchase for a month, I went and pulled the trigger on this two-fer.

 
 A sensible investment, old bean.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Lethevich on March 31, 2011, 06:18:15 AM
It's kind of ridiculous how that EMI twofer seems to have gone out of print - it's the best and cheapest intro to the composer's music - even better than the Lyrita disc.

Here, btw, is a review (from 1978) of the Groves recording of symphonies 8 and 9, by David Rudkin. It is by no means uncritical of Havergal Brian, but fair. (I found it on that great resource, JStor, which I can access through the Royal Library in The Hague.)


http://www.mediafire.com/file/fkxd7k2xkrjscnw/David%20Rudkin%20-%20Review%20of%20Brian%27s%208th%20and%209th%20%281978%29.pdf (http://www.mediafire.com/file/fkxd7k2xkrjscnw/David%20Rudkin%20-%20Review%20of%20Brian%27s%208th%20and%209th%20%281978%29.pdf)


And here a review by Christopher Norris from 1975, of the Lyrita recording of Symphonies 6 & 16 and the CBS recording with Symphony No. 22, Psalm 23 and the English Suite No. 5 (with the LSSO):


http://www.mediafire.com/file/ttk8pf7h2qcq5y5/Review%20by%20Christopher%20Norris%20of%20the%20Lyrita%20and%20CBS%20Brian%20LPs.pdf

That site's inaccessability, and yet ability to produce Google hits, has given me so many opportunities to rage over the past few years :) Thanks for sharing!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: karlhenning on March 31, 2011, 06:50:49 AM
A sensible investment, old bean.

I share your sense of the 17th and 32nd being less strong than the Gothic (and yet, perfectly likeable on their own merits). I am confident that there is musical good to be had from this new 'shot in the dark' : )
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Luke on March 31, 2011, 07:32:33 AM
You won't regret it. As Sara says, the best single purchase one can make, Brian-wise. As I've repeated ad nauseum, I think the 8th is a simply phenomenal piece, my favourite Brian symphony, and its two bookends, 7 and 9, both also to be found on this set, are similarly wonderful. 7 is a big work, 8 and 9 more concise.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on March 31, 2011, 07:54:07 AM
No.thank you for the offer,but I think I'll resist for the time being. I think you need it more than me. Anyway,I have the cd-r's & to be honest I have just spent a bit of a packet on some historical recordings. Some very strange people actually prefer listening to a couple of blokes playing into a horn or a 1920's microphone rather than something in state of the art digital sound. (I've got Dan Godfrey's 1920's recordings of VW's 'London Symphony' on at the moment.) But not all the time I hasten to add!
Brian's 'Gothic' could have been recorded in 1928!

NB: Dan Godfrey strikes me as a much better conductor than the jobber he's made out to be by some,judging by these recordings. Very impassioned playing & the swish of the shellac only adds to the evocative atmosphere.
Symposium have done a good job. Recommended!!!

OT - pity that Godfrey's performance is so chopped about and does not include that wonderful section in the epilogue which VW later excised (a mistake I think as this is for me the high point of the London Symphony) and which can still be heard in recordings by Goosens and Hickox.

Back on topic - I agree that Brian's Symphony No 8 is the best of all.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: John Whitmore on March 31, 2011, 09:40:41 AM
Sorry for having guarded Brian's music jealously for so long, brother Scarpia...


Here, btw, is a review (from 1978) of the Groves recording of symphonies 8 and 9, by David Rudkin. It is by no means uncritical of Havergal Brian, but fair. (I found it on that great resource, JStor, which I can access through the Royal Library in The Hague.)


http://www.mediafire.com/file/fkxd7k2xkrjscnw/David%20Rudkin%20-%20Review%20of%20Brian%27s%208th%20and%209th%20%281978%29.pdf (http://www.mediafire.com/file/fkxd7k2xkrjscnw/David%20Rudkin%20-%20Review%20of%20Brian%27s%208th%20and%209th%20%281978%29.pdf)


And here a review by Christopher Norris from 1975, of the Lyrita recording of Symphonies 6 & 16 and the CBS recording with Symphony No. 22, Psalm 23 and the English Suite No. 5 (with the LSSO):


http://www.mediafire.com/file/ttk8pf7h2qcq5y5/Review%20by%20Christopher%20Norris%20of%20the%20Lyrita%20and%20CBS%20Brian%20LPs.pdf

Johan, thanks for sending me the JStor review of the Pye Tippett/LSSO 1968 LP. This always popped up on Google but I couldn't access JStor which was infuriating. I've also read the HB JStor reviews. Very interesting reading. Is there anything from 1972 with regard to the Unicorn 10/21?
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on March 31, 2011, 10:04:37 AM
Johan, thanks for sending me the JStor review of the Pye Tippett/LSSO 1968 LP. This always popped up on Google but I couldn't access JStor which was infuriating. I've also read the HB JStor reviews. Very interesting reading. Is there anything from 1972 with regard to the Unicorn 10/21?


I think I saw something on my latest trawl. I'll look into it later tonight.


Later: I found this short review of the CBS record by Robert Anderson, from The Musical Times:


http://www.mediafire.com/file/29ddl1hdhd2kdko/Robert%20Anderson%20-%20review%20%281975%29%20LSSO%20Brian%20%28CBS%29.pdf (http://www.mediafire.com/file/29ddl1hdhd2kdko/Robert%20Anderson%20-%20review%20%281975%29%20LSSO%20Brian%20%28CBS%29.pdf)


There are many obituaries after Brian's death, and I think some of them will contain references to the LSSO performances. All in good time...


Still later: No. Didn't find a thing. But this early analysis by Deryck Cooke of The Gothic, ahead of the Boult performance in 1966, is interesting:


http://www.mediafire.com/file/fqf2pz4oos7wfhr/Deryck%20Cooke%20on%20The%20Gothic%20in%201966.pdf (http://www.mediafire.com/file/fqf2pz4oos7wfhr/Deryck%20Cooke%20on%20The%20Gothic%20in%201966.pdf)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Luke on March 31, 2011, 05:42:15 PM
Thanks for those! That article by Cooke is great - he describes the music well, precisely, succinctly, picks up on all the most salient points, and with a huge amount of understanding and sympathy. Lovely to read.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Klaatu on March 31, 2011, 11:28:14 PM
Yes J Z - thanks indeed for those Mediafire links. I was especially gobsmacked by David Ruskin's summing-up of Brian's oeuvre:

(Brian's music)....embodies a man's insistence on the unique significance of his own life's inner journey, in a political environment increasingly hostile to the inner life.

Those final words could hardly be more apt today, and perhaps this is which HB's work holds such a fascination for so many of us on this Forum.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on April 01, 2011, 12:02:18 AM
Yes J Z - thanks indeed for those Mediafire links. I was especially gobsmacked by David Ruskin's summing-up of Brian's oeuvre:

(Brian's music)....embodies a man's insistence on the unique significance of his own life's inner journey, in a political environment increasingly hostile to the inner life.

Those final words could hardly be more apt today, and perhaps this is which HB's work holds such a fascination for so many of us on this Forum.


As I read Rudkin's article some time ago, I had forgotten that quote. But yes - that's it, absolutely. Brian stayed doggedly true to his own inner vision and realised it against all odds. Every great artist does, of course. But the majority of them get recognised to make the journey less hazardous. That Brian outfaced all neglect is, to me, a continued inspiration. Apart from writing some of the richest and most powerful music I know.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on April 01, 2011, 12:47:50 AM
Deryck Cooke also wrote the programme to go with the Gothic performance in 1966. For the sake of completeness, I have also uploaded a scan of that (courtesy of a fellow GMG member) . Cooke characterises the climax of the Vivace very aptly...


http://www.mediafire.com/file/fc8cd3pv222z46h/HB_Gothic_programme_1966.zip
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Lethevich on April 01, 2011, 11:48:56 AM
Danke for that, I like to read every scrap I can find about composers I have an interest in.

One day some enlightened individual will torrent every Musical Times article from JSTOR :P Heck it might be me if I ever encounter a library PC (that actually has access to it ) with a working USB port and no firewall preventing scripts. Okay that doesn't sound very likely :'(
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on April 01, 2011, 11:50:56 AM
Danke for that, I like to read every scrap I can find about composers I have an interest in.

One day some enlightened individual will torrent every Musical Times article from JSTOR :P Heck it might be me if I ever encounter a library PC (that actually has access to it ) with a working USB port and no firewall preventing scripts. Okay that doesn't sound very likely :'(


If you ever get an infuriating Google hit for JStor, contact me... I also have access to Project Muse and other resources.


I also saw some early articles by Robert Simpson about Brian, but they don't add anything to what we already know. Though they are of historic interest, of course.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Leo K. on April 01, 2011, 04:24:07 PM
Danke for that, I like to read every scrap I can find about composers I have an interest in.

One day some enlightened individual will torrent every Musical Times article from JSTOR :P Heck it might be me if I ever encounter a library PC (that actually has access to it ) with a working USB port and no firewall preventing scripts. Okay that doesn't sound very likely :'(

I have access to JSTOR on my work PC. I'm always printing out good music articles... 8)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on April 02, 2011, 12:35:25 AM
I have access to JSTOR on my work PC. I'm always printing out good music articles... 8)


Work PC? Printing things out?! I have access at home, 24/7.  :P
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Scarpia on April 03, 2011, 09:24:55 AM
Listened to Brians symphony No 8 properly, twice through.  Certainly there is a lot to be impressed with, beautifully wrought, cathartic sonorities, some really fine writing for brass.  However there is a certain kaleidescope quality, nothing seems to establish itself definitively before the proceedings break off and something else starts to develop.  I find myself wondering what the point of it all is.  Is it expressionistic, is it mystical, is it purely intellectual?  I find myself somewhat puzzled as to where this symphony is going.
 
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on April 03, 2011, 09:46:35 AM
I think you 'got' the symphony, Scarpia. There are no winners in this work, there is no outcome. The work ends in the same darkness it started with. Two principles are at war - a militaristic, a lyrical one. Brian lets them 'battle it out', but neither is victorious. In the next symphony there is a triumph, but it doesn't seem really earned. Only in the Tenth you get a sense that Brian reaches a higher perspective - at the end of that work, there is a mystery, too. But not a dark one, like in the Eighth. More a sort of stoic acceptance of everything life can throw at you.


Your impression of a kaleidoscope is right, too. There are a lot of gear changes in Brian. One thing starts, stops, another thing begins. But all through that fragmentation a form is taking shape, in a very unconventional way. It can take some getting used to... When you listen to the Seventh, you'll encounter a more traditional structure, but still filled with unexpected twists and turns.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Leo K. on April 03, 2011, 09:50:43 AM

Work PC? Printing things out?! I have access at home, 24/7.  :P

Lucky!  8)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on April 03, 2011, 09:54:31 AM
Lucky!  8)


Paid for, through my membership of the Royal Library...
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Luke on April 03, 2011, 03:12:02 PM
Listened to Brians symphony No 8 properly, twice through.  Certainly there is a lot to be impressed with, beautifully wrought, cathartic sonorities, some really fine writing for brass.  However there is a certain kaleidescope quality, nothing seems to establish itself definitively before the proceedings break off and something else starts to develop.  I find myself wondering what the point of it all is.  Is it expressionistic, is it mystical, is it purely intellectual?  I find myself somewhat puzzled as to where this symphony is going.
 

As Johan said, that's basically it - the kaleidoscopic thing is very Brian! And Johan's analysis of the piece is also how I hear it - the military and the lyrical impulses playing off each other, forcing each other to new extremes, heights and depths. In the end, though, the symphony finds another way forwards, the switching to and fro is put aside and the music focuses on those two passacaglie. When I was talking about the way in which I hear this symphony putting aside symphonic convention and yet remaining true (truer than most, too) to what the idea of what 'symphony' really means, I was in part talking about the way Brian treats the idea of dichotomy in this piece.


Re the discontinuities - they are very much a part of Brian's style, something that he put there very deliberately and which can easily prove a stumbling block. Malcolm Macdonald points out that there are quite a few instances  when it seems as if the discontinuities have been imposed from outside, as it were - just gaps in the music, or changes of orchestration, and that if the gaps are closed up and the orchestral changes effaced by playing the whole thing on a piano, the music is often (certainly not always) revealed to have been a continuous polyphonic web. This is a strange compositional procedure - to create something continuous, and then to hide that continuity - and maybe tells us something about the way Brian composed, how he thought, what he valued in his music. But it also offers the listener a way in, too - try to hear the continuities even at the abrupt changes, and things may start to 'sound' differently.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on April 05, 2011, 12:38:03 PM
More a sort of stoic acceptance of everything life can throw at you.

Any music which conveys stoic acceptance, looming catastrophe and mad, hopeless defiance always appeals to me.  :D
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on April 05, 2011, 12:41:44 PM
Any music which conveys stoic acceptance, looming catastrophe and mad, hopeless defiance always appeals to me.  :D


It's the Churchillian mode par excellence, Jeffrey!


[On a more personal note - I have contacted two publishers through my literary connections today. I hope to have finished Part 1 of the novel (around 100,000 words) near 13 June, my 50th birthday. Exciting times...]
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on April 05, 2011, 12:47:19 PM

It's the Churchillian mode par excellence, Jeffrey!


[On a more personal note - I have contacted two publishers through my literary connections today. I hope to have finished Part 1 of the novel (around 100,000 words) near 13 June, my 50th birthday. Exciting times...]

Excellent news Johan - I hope that you will celebrate such significant milestones in style.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on April 05, 2011, 12:49:07 PM
Excellent news Johan - I hope that you will celebrate such significant milestones in style.


Blessed relief will be a celebration in itself!  ;D
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: karlhenning on April 05, 2011, 01:06:31 PM
Bravo, Johan!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on April 05, 2011, 01:08:43 PM
Bravo, Johan!


Grazie, Karl.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on April 06, 2011, 01:28:31 PM

Blessed relief will be a celebration in itself!  ;D

With your first magnum opus nearly complete Johan, you only have 31 more to write.  :D
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on April 06, 2011, 01:51:13 PM
Very droll, Jeffrey... ;) Perhaps  I will be struck by a Sibelian silence for the rest of my life!

Returning to Havergal Brian, I have fallen under the spell of the Cello Concerto. It did take a few listenings to get attuned to the beautifully rhapsodic nature of the work. In this respect alone it reminds me of Delius's Violin Concerto. The Cello Concerto seems to take up the story where we left it in Symphony No. 21, as its opening theme is a clear successor to that of the symphony's final movement. As Luke already observed, this ultimately very approachable and lovely concerto is an excellent way to get to know Brian's late style. The first movement is my favourite, it has some great flights of lyricism.

Malcolm MacDonald, in his three-part study, assigns Symphony No. 21, the Cello Concerto and the Concerto for Orchestra, to a 'becalmed' phase of stock-taking, just ahead of the strenuous trilogy of symphonies 22-24. Thanks to Dutton I have now discovered that the Cello Concerto and the Concerto for Orchestra are among Brian's most appealing works (others are, IMO, symphonies 6, 11, 15, 19 and 28).
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Scarpia on April 06, 2011, 01:55:45 PM
Very droll, Jeffrey... ;) Perhaps  I will be struck by a Sibelian silence for the rest of my life!

Returning to Havergal Brian, I have fallen under the spell of the Cello Concerto. It did take a few listenings to get attuned to the beautifully rhapsodic nature of the work. In this respect alone it reminds me of Delius's Violin Concerto. The Cello Concerto seems to take up the story where we left it in Symphony No. 21, as its opening theme is a clear successor to that of the symphony's final movement. As Luke already observed, this ultimately very approachable and lovely concerto is an excellent way to get to know Brian's late style. The first movement is my favourite, it has some great flights of lyricism.

Malcolm MacDonald, in his three-part study, assigns Symphony No. 21, the Cello Concerto and the Concerto for Orchestra, to a 'becalmed' phase of stock-taking, just ahead of the strenuous trilogy of symphonies 22-24. Thanks to Dutton I have now discovered that the Cello Concerto and the Concerto for Orchestra are among Brian's most appealing works (others are, IMO, symphonies 6, 11, 15, 19 and 28).

My lord, how can someone keep so many works in the head? 
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on April 06, 2011, 02:00:32 PM
Well, Scarpia, I have loved Brian's music for almost 33 years now, and since I got tapes of most of the symphonies during the late 1980s I have listened to them countless times. Keeping them apart is just as easy as with Beethoven's 32 piano sonatas. You simply live with the music. That's all...
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Scarpia on April 06, 2011, 02:03:45 PM
Well, Scarpia, I have loved Brian's music for almost 33 years now, and since I got tapes of most of the symphonies during the late 1980s I have listened to them countless times. Keeping them apart is just as easy as with Beethoven's 32 piano sonatas. You simply live with the music. That's all...

Well, I can't call to mind each of Beethoven's 32 Sonatas either.   :(
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Christo on April 06, 2011, 02:27:39 PM
With even Scarpia among the converts, I (an old semi-partly, once-a-HBS-subscribing-but-then-forgetting-to-pay-my-membership-fee, former Brianite myself) became so excited once more, that I find myself playing one or two Havergal Brian symphonies almost every day.

Today I listened to nos. 6-10, in a row. And I love them all.  ;D
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on April 06, 2011, 02:33:52 PM
Great to hear it, Christo! I have the two new Dutton CDs on my mp3 player (with a few extra symphonies thrown in for good measure), and listen to them every day... Obsessive? Perhaps. That's love for you...
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Christo on April 06, 2011, 02:39:10 PM
 ;)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on April 06, 2011, 09:36:19 PM
With even Scarpia among the converts, I (an old semi-partly, once-a-HBS-subscribing-but-then-forgetting-to-pay-my-membership-fee, former Brianite myself) became so excited once more, that I find myself playing one or two Havergal Brian symphonies almost every day.

Today I listened to nos. 6-10, in a row. And I love them all.  ;D

My relationship with the HB Society is/was the same as yours. I have just received the Orchestral Music of HB Volume 1 and look forward  in particular to hearing 'Rustic Scenes' (English Suite No 5) again - an old friend from an old CBS LSSO LP. Talking of which Symphony No 22 (Sinfonia Brevis) was on the same old LP and we definitely need a CD version of that too as I remember it as a fine work.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on April 06, 2011, 09:41:51 PM
Very droll, Jeffrey... ;) Perhaps  I will be struck by a Sibelian silence for the rest of my life!

No Johan I don't think so - I expect that you'll take the HB/Leif Segerstam route.  ;D
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on April 07, 2011, 01:47:17 AM
No Johan I don't think so - I expect that you'll take the HB/Leif Segerstam route.  ;D


Segerstam!? Heaven forbid! Compared to him, HB was a miser. If I am ever to reach those levels of productivity, I really must start drinking in earnest. My sobriety is a big handicap.  ;D
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Guido on April 07, 2011, 02:06:44 AM
Desperate to hear the cello concerto after these descriptions! It's now the most important English cello concerto I haven't heard (recently acquired the Foulds thanks to a forum member).

Ooh it's coupled with Bush (sometimes his music is very interesting. I love the 3 studies for piano trio. Coincidentally I just heard his Sinfonietta Concertante for cello and orchestra), and Bowen (his music is virtually never interesting). I'm going to have to get this.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Lethevich on April 08, 2011, 07:06:09 AM
A few high res images (I haven't seen many):

(http://img858.imageshack.us/img858/1486/mw85738.jpg) (http://img858.imageshack.us/img858/1486/mw85738.jpg)

(http://img546.imageshack.us/img546/952/havergalbrian.jpg) (http://img546.imageshack.us/img546/952/havergalbrian.jpg) (http://img810.imageshack.us/img810/952/havergalbrian.jpg) (http://img810.imageshack.us/img810/952/havergalbrian.jpg)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on April 08, 2011, 07:15:31 AM
Always nice to see the man himself! I have a picture of his bust leaning against my monitor... In Brian's case, though, the face doesn't reveal  a lot. For what went on inside, we have to listen to the music, and even there, he doesn't wear his heart on his sleeve. An enigmatic man!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on April 08, 2011, 12:21:55 PM
Just checked the site of the Havergal Brian Society. A new addition: an introductory talk on Brian's music  (58 minutes) by Malcolm MacDonald. I haven't yet listened to it myself, but I will...


http://www.havergalbrian.org/hb_mm.mp3 (http://www.havergalbrian.org/hb_mm.mp3)


Added: I have just learned that symphonies 22-24 and English Suite No. 1 will now be recorded in June (by Naxos).
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Lethevich on April 08, 2011, 02:24:13 PM
I cross my fingers that Naxos completing the cycle doesn't discourage other labels like Dutton from duplicating recording of performances - especially of the older Marco Polo ones.

I wish I could be more enthusiastic about the inbound Naxos disc but I'm not sure that they are the label to really produce the most ideal recordings of the music. I'll still be buying the disc, of course.

Thanks for the link as well!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on April 08, 2011, 02:34:59 PM
I fully share your concern, Sara. The Naxos Brian cycle has been a mixed bag, whereas both Dutton CDs are wonderful... Let's wait and see (listen, rather).

MM's introduction is excellent. Heartily recommended to anyone wanting a short, sharp idea of what Brian is all about.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Lethevich on April 08, 2011, 02:58:31 PM
Listening now, thanks! This is a more professional job than I had anticipated - also, the fellow has a very distinctive voice.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on April 09, 2011, 02:32:09 AM
Added: I have just learned that symphonies 22-24 and English Suite No. 1 will now be recorded in June (by Naxos).


I'm more excited about this than Lethe. If the Naxos series isn't ideal it's still preferable to nothing, and recordings of 22-24 will fill a serious gap and be very welcomed by me. MacDonald says: "I believe that if the three were performed together....the result would enhance them all. They would be seen as Prelude-Exposition, Developement and Triumphal Finale plus Epilogue in a grand unified design."

Sarge
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Lethevich on April 09, 2011, 03:17:44 AM
:) I hadn't considered that - it will definitely cool to hear symphonic "brothers" alongside each other rather than the usual potpourri. I'm most looking forward to a label making a professional recording of the 27th - it has a little more breathing space than some of the other late works, which makes the usual density of content a little easier to understand. I think that's why it was an early favourite for me when I heard the Mackerras broadcast courtesy of Johan.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on April 09, 2011, 03:21:55 AM
My next 'dream' CD would be Brabbins on Dutton, with symphonies 13, 14, 27 and 28. If I were a millionaire...
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on April 09, 2011, 03:37:31 AM
If I were a millionaire...

You will be, Johan, as soon as your novel makes the Dutch equivalent of the NY Times Best Sellers list  8)

Sarge
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on April 09, 2011, 03:51:25 AM
I think, Sarge, I'll attract a small following of persevering souls (already have them), just like HB. And you know how affluent he was...
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: edward on April 09, 2011, 05:09:27 AM
Any word on the performers on the Naxos disc?
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on April 09, 2011, 06:06:29 AM
Any word on the performers on the Naxos disc?


If nothing has changed except the recording date, it's the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by James Judd.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: karlhenning on April 09, 2011, 07:50:43 AM
Well, it's a good band, and I like the other recordings I've heard with Judd.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on April 10, 2011, 09:29:44 AM
This made me do a double-take just now:

1967  April 15  The Simpsons visit the Brians

(Malcolm MacDonald, The Symphonies of Havergal Brian, vol. 2, p. 285)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on April 14, 2011, 06:17:51 AM
It's official -


Sunday 17 July
7.00pm – c. 9.00pm
Royal Albert Hall

Choral music and singing events
Brian
Symphony No. 1 in D minor, 'The Gothic' (110 mins)



http://www.bbc.co.uk/proms/whats-on/2011/july-17/5 (http://www.bbc.co.uk/proms/whats-on/2011/july-17/5)


 :o :D :)


Booking for BBC Proms

Booking opens at 9.00am on Saturday 7 May:
- online at www.royalalberthall.com
- by telephone on 0845 401 5040*
- in person at the Royal Albert Hall
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on April 14, 2011, 07:30:25 AM
Just checked the site of the Havergal Brian Society. A new addition: an introductory talk on Brian's music  (58 minutes) by Malcolm MacDonald. I haven't yet listened to it myself, but I will...


http://www.havergalbrian.org/hb_mm.mp3 (http://www.havergalbrian.org/hb_mm.mp3)


Added: I have just learned that symphonies 22-24 and English Suite No. 1 will now be recorded in June (by Naxos).

Great to see Symphony No 22 back again - I remember it well from a very old CBS LP.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: karlhenning on April 14, 2011, 07:46:32 AM
It's official -

Sunday 17 July
7.00pm – c. 9.00pm
Royal Albert Hall

Choral music and singing events
Brian
Symphony No. 1 in D minor, 'The Gothic' (110 mins)



http://www.bbc.co.uk/proms/whats-on/2011/july-17/5 (http://www.bbc.co.uk/proms/whats-on/2011/july-17/5)


 :o :D :)


Booking for BBC Proms

Booking opens at 9.00am on Saturday 7 May:
- online at www.royalalberthall.com (http://www.royalalberthall.com/)
- by telephone on 0845 401 5040*
- in person at the Royal Albert Hall

Très cool!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on April 14, 2011, 07:50:51 AM
Très cool!


Indeed. The online ordering system seems to be nerve-wracking, by the way, with no certainty if you'll get your seat... I think I'll write to the Havergal Brian Society to ask whether it can reserve tickets for members... It would be sad not to be able to attend.


Great to see Symphony No 22 back again - I remember it well from a very old CBS LP.


So do I. With English Suite No. 5 and Psalm 23...
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on April 14, 2011, 07:51:54 AM
It's official -


Sunday 17 July
7.00pm – c. 9.00pm
Royal Albert Hall

Choral music and singing events
Brian
Symphony No. 1 in D minor, 'The Gothic' (110 mins)



http://www.bbc.co.uk/proms/whats-on/2011/july-17/5 (http://www.bbc.co.uk/proms/whats-on/2011/july-17/5)


 :o :D :)


Booking for BBC Proms

Booking opens at 9.00am on Saturday 7 May:
- online at www.royalalberthall.com
- by telephone on 0845 401 5040*
- in person at the Royal Albert Hall

Very exciting news - I hope to be there if I possibly can. Which of the Simpsons will be conducting?
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on April 14, 2011, 07:54:32 AM
Very exciting news - I hope to be there if I possibly can. Which of the Simpsons will be conducting?


Lisa. The saxophone wasn't enough for her.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on April 14, 2011, 07:57:06 AM
Great to see Symphony No 22 back again - I remember it well from a very old CBS LP.

I was just listening to it the other day...posted my scan of the cover in the listening thread.

(http://photos.imageevent.com/sgtrock/jan2011/brian22LP.jpg)



Sarge
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on April 14, 2011, 07:59:29 AM
Indeed. The online ordering system seems to be nerve-wracking, by the way, with no certainty if you'll get your seat...

Yeah, tickets won't actually be on sale until next month but they suggest making a "Proms Plan"...which seems a lot of work and guaranties nothing.


Sarge
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: karlhenning on April 14, 2011, 08:18:51 AM
... a lot of work and guaranties nothing.

Bwa-ha-ha-ha-haaa!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Christo on April 14, 2011, 08:51:17 AM
It's official -
Sunday 17 July
7.00pm – c. 9.00pm
Royal Albert Hall

Brian - Symphony No. 1 in D minor, 'The Gothic' (110 mins)

http://www.bbc.co.uk/proms/whats-on/2011/july-17/5 (http://www.bbc.co.uk/proms/whats-on/2011/july-17/5)

Terrific news.  :o :o :o :P :) What a pity I can't be there - I would, I would, but we planned to have arrived at our destination in Italy already, that Sunday. BTW, what a list of performers. Who is NOT in it, one wonders ...  ;)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on April 14, 2011, 10:47:37 AM
Terrific news.  :o :o :o :P :) What a pity I can't be there - I would, I would, but we planned to have arrived at our destination in Italy already, that Sunday. BTW, what a list of performers. Who is NOT in it, one wonders ...  ;)


Half of choral Britain...


Susan Gritton soprano
Christine Rice mezzo-soprano
Peter Auty tenor
Alastair Miles bass

CBSO Youth Chorus
Eltham College Boys' Choir
Southend Boys' and Girls' Choirs
Bach Choir
BBC National Chorus of Wales
Brighton Festival Chorus
Côr Caerdydd
Huddersfield Choral Society
London Symphony Chorus

BBC Concert Orchestra
BBC National Orchestra of Wales

Martyn Brabbins conductor



I heard Roger Wright, the Proms 'boss', on Radio 4 tonight, saying that finding adequate rehearsal space for all these forces was a logistical nightmare in itself. Alexandra Palace is the place where the 'Gothic' will be resounding first. I think the 'Symphony of a Thousand' nickname should now really be applied to 'The Gothic'!


My greatest hopes for this major event are: 1) the work gets an unforgettable performance and 2) Brian's reputation grows, leading to a new 'Brian Renaissance'.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Hattoff on April 14, 2011, 08:58:59 PM
There does seem to be an upsurge in interest in Brian. Roger Wright was interviewed on Radio 3 yesterday evening and said that although he himself was not convinced of Brian's importance, many people, whose opinions he respected, were so convinced. Which is the most positive comment about Brian on the BBC since Robert Simpson died.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on April 15, 2011, 12:14:20 AM
I was just listening to it the other day...posted my scan of the cover in the listening thread.

(http://photos.imageevent.com/sgtrock/jan2011/brian22LP.jpg)



Sarge
That's the one! Nice to see the cover again - a nostalgia trip so thanks for posting.  The image is rather similar to the one used by EMI on the original CD release of Groves's version of symphonies 8 and 9.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on April 15, 2011, 12:53:12 AM
There does seem to be an upsurge in interest in Brian. Roger Wright was interviewed on Radio 3 yesterday evening and said that although he himself was not convinced of Brian's importance, many people, whose opinions he respected, were so convinced. Which is the most positive comment about Brian on the BBC since Robert Simpson died.


In his blog Roger Wright also says he's not in the business of claiming 'The Gothic' is a masterpiece, but that it's a work deserving of a hearing, so that people can make up their own minds.


I applaud any publicity Brian's music gets. It's essential people know it's there and that it can offer you a very special musical experience. If this event leads to performances of other Brian symphonies and/or Brabbins gets the status of 'Brian conductor', something very important will have been achieved.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on April 15, 2011, 01:08:42 AM
The Brisbane Gothic is scheduled to be broadcast on 4MBS on Saturday 4 June at 8pm, Brisbane time (UTC+10h),  which is  9 hours ahead of UK BST, so equivalent to 11am the same day in the UK.  As 4MBS is available online, Brian lovers worldwide with Internet access will be able to hear the performance for themselves.  Just searching for ‘4MBS listen online’ will easily find their website.


(Culled from the latest HBS Newsletter)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: vandermolen on April 15, 2011, 01:39:13 AM
Another ambitious project is a performance of The Gothic Symphony by Havergal Brian, packing a cast of more than 1,000 musicians from 10 choirs and two orchestras into the Royal Albert Hall.  Mr Wright joked that 'it will probably be the fastest to sell out because when the performers are in place there will be hardly any room for the audience'.

Interview with Roger Wright, director of BBC Proms in Daily Telegraph (15/04/11)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: karlhenning on April 15, 2011, 01:56:38 AM
There does seem to be an upsurge in interest in Brian. Roger Wright was interviewed on Radio 3 yesterday evening and said that although he himself was not convinced of Brian's importance, many people, whose opinions he respected, were so convinced.

What is importance in art, and what is its degree of importance to art?

Quote
Which is the most positive comment about Brian on the BBC since Robert Simpson died.

Quite an arid positive comment, then ; )
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on April 15, 2011, 02:17:10 AM
What is importance in art, and what is its degree of importance to art?


I think importance is important..., whether you consider it only a matter of perception, or something intrinsic to the person or work in question. Importance works like gravity - the more ascribed to you, the more people, money, influence you draw into your sphere, whether deservedly so, or not. And whether you deserve it, is the battle that has to be fought, by you, by those 'believing' in you. I think it matters to art, too. Defining what is worthy of attention, and what not, is what taste is all about and, considering the shortness of human life, a very useful service, too.

Quote
Quite an arid positive comment, then ; )


I agree he is sitting on the fence. But I think he has to. Taking Brian seriously is still not done in some circles.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: karlhenning on April 15, 2011, 03:25:20 AM
I largely agree, Johan . . . but then, we're already qualifying importance to mean worthy of attention, focusing perhaps on the artwork as a chose-en-soi.  There is still a broad tendency to restrict importance in art to a sort of Darwinian, results-driven model: what does that artist's work do for the subsequent practice of the art?. And even that question gets treated in something of a narrow, linear fashion.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on April 15, 2011, 03:31:59 AM
I largely agree, Johan . . . but then, we're already qualifying importance to mean worthy of attention, focusing perhaps on the artwork as a chose-en-soi.  There is still a broad tendency to restrict importance in art to a sort of Darwinian, results-driven model: what does that artist's work do for the subsequent practice of the art?. And even that question gets treated in something of a narrow, linear fashion.


I don't believe in the 'results-driven model', either. That's an idea of Progress that has nothing to do with art. Shakespeare doesn't write more advanced, and thus better tragedies than Aeschylus and Sophocles. Humanity advances through time, but the art reflecting it is always equidistant to this progression.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Lethevich on April 15, 2011, 04:33:16 AM
There is that (I think) TS Eliot saying that the present changes the past as much as vice versa. If Brian is properly "rediscovered" and becomes a more respected figure, then the previous line of progress will be irrelevent and modified to fit. Whether his influence on composition was small or not in the years during and after his death, if eventually the recognition comes, that is a sufficient vindication.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on April 15, 2011, 06:55:00 AM
There is that (I think) TS Eliot saying that the present changes the past as much as vice versa. If Brian is properly "rediscovered" and becomes a more respected figure, then the previous line of progress will be irrelevent and modified to fit. Whether his influence on composition was small or not in the years during and after his death, if eventually the recognition comes, that is a sufficient vindication.


Yes, it was Eliot who said that a great new work alters our perception of the works of the past. And yes, if Brian is admitted to the canon of (British) composers, the general view of the history of the (British) symphony will have to be modified.


But let's wait, listen, and see...
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Christo on April 15, 2011, 09:32:59 PM

I don't believe in the 'results-driven model', either. That's an idea of Progress that has nothing to do with art. Shakespeare doesn't write more advanced, and thus better tragedies than Aeschylus and Sophocles. Humanity advances through time, but the art reflecting it is always equidistant to this progression.

Well formulated indeed. And I don't think this `equidistance' to human history only applies to art, but perhaps to other worthwhile things (like values, morals, ethics) as well.  ;)

My copy of the perhaps the greatest cd of the present HB Renaissance finally arrived. Now playing this second reading (I'm the happy owner of the world famous Leicesthershire Schools SO's world premiere recording  8)) of the epic-tragic Tenth Symphony (1954) in glorious new sound:

                         (http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/4195uJJxt0L._SL500_AA300_.jpg)

Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on April 15, 2011, 10:11:46 PM
Well formulated indeed. And I don't think this `equidistance' to human history only applies to art, but perhaps to other worthwhile things (like values, morals, ethics) as well.  ;)

My copy of the perhaps the greatest cd of the present HB Renaissance finally arrived. Now playing this second reading (I'm the happy owner of the world famous Leicesthershire Schools SO's world premiere recording  8) ) of the epic-tragic Tenth Symphony (1954) in glorious new sound:

                         (http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/4195uJJxt0L._SL500_AA300_.jpg)


Extending the equidistance... I can endorse that, but only if applied to the golden rule of "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you". Apart from that, I dislike the word 'values', because it implies fluctuation and tradeoffs. The term is economic and at variance with universality.


As for "perhaps the greatest cd of the present HB Renaissance" - no disagreement here. I have listened to it countless times already. It's a Brian feast (some people would consider that an oxymoron, but who cares!)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on April 16, 2011, 02:09:22 PM
Dr Merryheart rules!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on April 16, 2011, 02:12:44 PM
Dr Merryheart rules!


Do you know Bernard Herrmann conducted it once, in the 1940s? He loved British music.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on April 16, 2011, 02:43:23 PM
No,I didn't. I'm not suprised in a way though,because this is after all,a man who premiered commercial recordings of Raff & Cyril Scott! (I love his film scores too.) I believe he paid for some of these performances too. I've got some old ex Swansea library Lp's of his 'Wuthering Heights' opera somewhere.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on April 16, 2011, 02:55:57 PM
I recently put the Forlane recordings of the 'Symphonic Variations' and 'Dances' from 'The Tigers' on a cd-r (no annoying break!) coupled with the Dutton performance of the 'English Suite No 3'. They make an ideal coupling.
If only the Second English Suite would turn up! That might have made an even better coupling. 'Night portraits' sounds right up my street & very,very intriguing! I wonder what the chances of it lying somewhere forgotten are? But I understand the HBS has been looking for lost works like this for years. Didn't they have an 'investigations officer' of some kind?
I'll have to dig out my genuine gwaun valley hazel wood dowsing pendulum!!!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on April 17, 2011, 10:46:05 AM
I recently put the Forlane recordings of the 'Symphonic Variations' and 'Dances' from 'The Tigers' on a cd-r (no annoying break!) coupled with the Dutton performance of the 'English Suite No 3'. They make an ideal coupling.
If only the Second English Suite would turn up! That might have made an even better coupling. 'Night portraits' sounds right up my street & very,very intriguing! I wonder what the chances of it lying somewhere forgotten are? But I understand the HBS has been looking for lost works like this for years. Didn't they have an 'investigations officer' of some kind?
I'll have to dig out my genuine gwaun valley hazel wood dowsing pendulum!!!


You're right. But nothing has been heard from him in years. I think he's lost, too. So dig out your pendulum!


Seriously, that Second English Suite sounds indeed intriguing and it's a great pity it has disappeared. If more people had cared about HB's music, his oeuvre would have been intact.


Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on April 18, 2011, 02:55:27 AM
Perhaps another reward. If I was a millionaire I could offer a million for 'Prometheus Unbound',maybe something would turn up.
Still,at least they found 'The Tigers'!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on April 18, 2011, 03:05:41 AM
You're right. But nothing has been heard from him in years. I think he's lost, too.

Oh my...does this mean HB was the center of some paranormal Bermuda Triangle-like vortex that sucked his music, and any searchers of his music, into oblivion?  :o
 
:D ;D :D


Sarge
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: karlhenning on April 18, 2011, 03:10:43 AM
I think I live on the verge of that vortex myself.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on April 18, 2011, 03:21:31 AM
I think I live on the verge of that vortex myself.

There is indeed some powerful force pulling us towards your wonderful music, Karl.

Sarge
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on April 18, 2011, 03:22:39 AM
Oh my...does this mean HB was the center of some paranormal Bermuda Triangle-like vortex that sucked his music, and any searchers of his music, into oblivion?  :o

Yes. Every living Brianite is a survivor.  :D
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: karlhenning on April 18, 2011, 03:25:50 AM
Yes. Every living Brianite is a survivor.  :D

I like that!
 
There is indeed some powerful force pulling us towards your wonderful music, Karl.

The generosity of such a kind comment is a great gift this morning, thank you, Sarge!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on April 18, 2011, 03:33:46 AM
Actually,I think he snuffed it!
The only other explanation would be that the missing 'Havergal Brian Society Investigations Officer' is now the subject of ongoing investigations by the current 'Havergal Brian Society Investigations Officer'.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on April 18, 2011, 03:36:26 AM
It's like something out of 'The Avengers'!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on April 18, 2011, 03:50:19 AM
It's like something out of 'The Avengers'!

Or Kafka.  :D
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on April 18, 2011, 04:04:30 AM
My million pound reward would find him.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Lethevich on April 18, 2011, 04:12:50 AM
Your million pound reward would probably convince a few modern composers to try to forge it ;D

Also, surprised at how demanding of attention the English Suites are - light music they are not.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on April 18, 2011, 04:21:31 AM
Also, surprised at how demanding of attention the English Suites are - light music they are not.

 
 No. You have to listen to the Third English Suite (to mention only that one) several times. It's compressed, elliptic, but has turned into a firm favourite with me, movements 2 and 5 especially.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: The new erato on April 18, 2011, 04:49:56 AM
My million pound reward would find him.
Please send them to me and I will send you the manuscript of his 33rd symphony. The hitherto unknown "To Joyce" symphony, aka "the Mad Hatto".
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on April 18, 2011, 04:51:34 AM
Yes,definately a misnomer. We're certainly not talking Eric Coates here. (Although nothing wrong with Coates,my elderly mothers eyes lit up when I played that London thingummy!)
I notice the HB Unicorn cd is being offered for £112.74p on Amazon. Condition: New. It better be!!!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on April 18, 2011, 04:53:48 AM
A genuine Hatto would be some consolation after you'd settled into your mansion.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Lethevich on April 18, 2011, 05:06:35 AM
No. You have to listen to the Third English Suite (to mention only that one) several times. It's compressed, elliptic, but has turned into a firm favourite with me, movements 2 and 5 especially.

Movements 1 and 4 struck me most on the first few listens (admittedly because the opening of the 4th reminded me of a Bantock Heroic ballad ::)). My brain no doubt just paid more attention to the movements with the titles I liked best :D I certainly am going to take a bit longer to take seriously the "Merry Peasant" movement ;D
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on April 18, 2011, 05:12:14 AM
My Unicorn disc is playable, but time has done something to it...
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on April 18, 2011, 05:19:14 AM
Movements 1 and 4 struck me most on the first few listens (admittedly because the opening of the 4th reminded me of a Bantock Heroic ballad ::) ). My brain no doubt just paid more attention to the movements with the titles I liked best :D I certainly am going to take a bit longer to take seriously the "Merry Peasant" movement ;D


My reason for liking those movements so much is - they show you Brian at his swiftest and most mercurial, with lots of orchestral invention, akin to what he demonstrates in 'The Tigers'.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on April 18, 2011, 05:36:24 AM
Nice colour,almost as if you've been 'awarded' a bronze disc for you're dedication to the Brian cause!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on April 18, 2011, 06:22:18 AM
I think I deserve gold... ;-) But it's the taking part that counts (ahem).
 
 Just thought - a neglected composer gets neglected fans.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on April 18, 2011, 06:45:34 AM
It is gold-ish!
I had a s/h copy of the Unicorn cd of Cipriani Potter symphonies recently. That was a bronze. Very enjoyable too.
It's green you have to worry about or purple turning slowly to black when they don't work.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on April 18, 2011, 07:16:17 AM
I must admit to sharing some of the reservations expressed her regarding Naxos doing more Brian. I should be delighted I know,but I feel a bit like I did when I heard that Cameo Classics were planning to do Holbrooke with East European orchestra's. I was like a character in one of those awful soaps, ie :
 
NooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooH!

I just wanted it to be Dutton (or Toccatta).
As you know by now,I'm not a big fan of (most of) the Naxos recordings.                                 
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Lethevich on April 18, 2011, 07:20:08 AM
I read somewhere that Cameo were also pondering Brian's 5th. Frankly, anybody who records that piece, regardless of the location of the forces, is worth supporting ;) Especially as it shouldn't be a problem to ship a British soloist along with the conductor, and much of the weight in deciding a successful or unsuccessful performance should fall upon them.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on April 18, 2011, 07:33:21 AM
@Cilgwyn I know the feeling (Oh no!) My first preference would now be Dutton... But as I said, let's wait and listen. There have been a few good apples in the Naxos/Brian cart.
 
 @Lethe I think Brian is very good in the concerto form. Violin Concerto - excellent. Cello Concerto - lovely. Concerto for Orchestra - typical late Brian, but shot through with lyricism. And Symphony No. 5, 'Wine of Summer', which could be considered a 'Baritone Concerto', is a winner, too. Very spare, clean, and understatedly poetic. I hope, like you, it will be recorded one day. Fortunately, there have been two radio broadcasts, one in 1976 and one in 2008 (?), and the former, with Brian Rayner Cook, is excellent.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Lethevich on April 18, 2011, 07:45:40 AM
Playing standards amongst provincial orchestras have increased markedly since those Marco Polo recordings, I wouldn't be surprised if it beats the best of those older ones.

I do have your Mediafire folder to thank for introducing me to the 5th via Cook, it is wonderful.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on April 18, 2011, 08:02:52 AM
I have to say if Cameo did record Brian's Fifth I would probably buy it East European orchestra or not.
If they release a major work by Holbrooke I would probably buy it,albeit with some trepidation. But the thought of a slavonic wobbler doing the 'Wine of a Summer' might just put me off ('The Wobble of Summer'?)
I have nothing against East Europeans though. The only time I ever got free beer in a pub all night was in a pub run by a Pole! And it is true that these orchestra's have got better.
I am fairly open minded. I ordered the Classico recording of Bax's Sixth symphony s/h earlier today & I know that the Munich forces he used aren't regarded as exactly top of the tree.
Incidentally,I quite like the Slavonic wobble at times,particularly in some of those wonderful old communist era Supraphon recordings. Just not to much & NOT in the 'Wobble'....I mean,'Wine of Summer'.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on April 18, 2011, 08:03:52 AM
I have to say if Cameo did record Brian's Fifth I would probably buy it East European orchestra or not.
If they release a major work by Holbrooke I would probably buy it,albeit with some trepidation. But the thought of a slavonic wobbler doing the 'Wine of a Summer' might just put me off ('The Wobble of Summer'?)
I have nothing against East Europeans though. The only time I ever got free beer in a pub all night was in a pub run by a Pole! And it is true that these orchestra's have got better.
I am fairly open minded. I ordered the Classico recording of Bax's Sixth symphony s/h earlier today & I know that the Munich forces he used aren't regarded as exactly top of the tree.
Incidentally,I quite like the Slavonic wobble at times,particularly in some of those wonderful old communist era Supraphon recordings. Just not to much & NOT in the 'Wobble'....I mean,'Wine of Summer'.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on April 18, 2011, 08:07:00 AM
Have I just developed double vision or is that two of me? I knew I shouldn't have mentioned beer!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: karlhenning on April 18, 2011, 08:13:57 AM
Did somebody say beer!?
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: karlhenning on April 18, 2011, 08:14:04 AM
Did somebody say beer!?
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on April 18, 2011, 08:15:37 AM
I knew I SHOULDN'T have been to Specsavers!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on April 18, 2011, 08:56:27 AM
Only one saucepan of milk on the stove. I'm making progress.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Superhorn on April 18, 2011, 01:37:55 PM
    Get this -  at the annual Proms in London this Summer,  the British conductor Martyn Brabbins is actually going to be conducting the "Gothic Symphony", I belueve with the BBC symphony and about half the population of London ! 
    The Gothic symphony is the halley's comet of classical music -it  gets performed with extreme rarity,naturally because of the humongous forces required to do it .  This should be something. Could there possibly be a recording?
   
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Scarpia on April 18, 2011, 01:39:45 PM
    Get this -  at the annual Proms in London this Summer,  the British conductor Martyn Brabbins is actually going to be conducting the "Gothic Symphony", I belueve with the BBC symphony and about half the population of London ! 
    The Gothic symphony is the halley's comet of classical music -it  gets performed with extreme rarity,naturally because of the humongous forces required to do it .  This should be something. Could there possibly be a recording?
 

Apparently you are unaware that the fanatics have been discussing that fact for the last 20 pages or so on this thread.   8)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Lethevich on April 18, 2011, 01:41:36 PM
Could there possibly be a recording?

I believe that, as with the recent premiere of Foulds' Requiem, it is too high profile for the (certain) recording not to be commercially released at some point. I presume that the BBC habitually records every proms performance, whether it is made available later or not.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Mirror Image on April 19, 2011, 07:47:17 PM
    Get this -  at the annual Proms in London this Summer,  the British conductor Martyn Brabbins is actually going to be conducting the "Gothic Symphony", I belueve with the BBC symphony and about half the population of London ! 
    The Gothic symphony is the halley's comet of classical music -it  gets performed with extreme rarity,naturally because of the humongous forces required to do it .  This should be something. Could there possibly be a recording?
 

God, I hope so!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Mirror Image on April 19, 2011, 07:50:55 PM
I own all the Naxos and Hyperion recordings so far of Brian's music. I'm anxiously awaiting that Toccata disc that has been mentioned previously in this thread.

Anyway, getting back to the music, I find Brian's use of brass just incredible. Yes, sometimes his orchestration can be thick, but there is such drive, passion, and mystery to this man's music. I shall be revisiting all of the recordings I own soon.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: springrite on April 19, 2011, 08:57:48 PM
I find Brian's use of brass just incredible.

I love the fact that the first time I hear it, the entrace of the brass just seems so out of place and making no sense. But unpn repeated listening, it becomes the most logical and natural thing in the world, and just perfect. It just couldn't be any other way. That is the best way I can describe Brian's music.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Hattoff on April 19, 2011, 10:45:48 PM
Yes, there is more to Brian's music than just getting it right :P
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on April 19, 2011, 10:48:13 PM

  I own all the Naxos and Hyperion recordings so far of Brian's music. I'm anxiously awaiting that Toccata disc that has been mentioned previously in this thread.
  
  Anyway, getting back to the music, I find Brian's use of brass just incredible. Yes, sometimes his orchestration can be thick, but there is such drive, passion, and mystery to this man's music. I shall be revisiting all of the recordings I own soon.

  
  MI, if you are revisiting your recordings, the performances of the Violin Concerto, and symphonies 11 (first movement too fast, though), 12, 15, 17, 20, 25, 32 are good. I know your budget won't be limitless, but two CDs are essential in any Brian collection - the Lyrita with 6 & 16 and the new Dutton with symphonies 10 & 30, the Concerto for Orchestra and English Suite No. 3...
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on April 19, 2011, 10:52:31 PM
I forgot the biggest elephant in the room - The Gothic!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Luke on April 19, 2011, 10:58:22 PM
but two CDs are essential in any Brian collection - the Lyrita with 6 & 16 and the new Dutton with symphonies 10 & 30, the Concerto for Orchestra and English Suite No. 3...

don't forget (I know you wouldn't, though!) the Groves/Mackerras twofer - 7, 8, 9, and 31 + The Tinker's Wedding, very fine performances of some of Brian's very finest works. To have the sequence 7-9 available in such quality in one place is a real dream.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on April 19, 2011, 11:01:34 PM
don't forget (I know you wouldn't, though!) the Groves/Mackerras twofer - 7, 8, 9, and 31 + The Tinker's Wedding, very fine performances of some of Brian's very finest works. To have the sequence 7-9 available in such quality in one place is a real dream.


Agreed, of course! I didn't mention it, because it's OOP, more's the pity.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Luke on April 19, 2011, 11:10:03 PM
It's a crime, I know. But one can still get hold of it easily enough. There are 5 copies on amazon.uk at the moment, cheapest £15 - an essential purchase for anyone remotely interested in Brian or, indeed, in the 20th century symphony, I'd have thought.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on April 20, 2011, 01:32:40 AM
You've got to keep on looking. I was lucky,I got mine from a seller for about £2.00 plus p&p. It was so cheap I thought there would be something wrong with it! But it was in excellent condition. Of course I had the Lp's years ago. I wish I'd hung onto them really,but I never seem to have enough room! Or I've got the big bad wolf banging at my door.
The original emi Lp had a wonderful photograph of Brian on the cover. A very striking cover image.
Some very good photographs were taken of Brian towards the end of his life,after his belated re-discovery. ( But as the old saying goes,better late than never).
I suppose Brian was pretty lucky compared to the embittered Joseph Holbrooke.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on April 20, 2011, 01:38:40 AM
I suppose Brian was pretty lucky compared to the embittered Joseph Holbrooke.


Brian had the luck to live to a ripe old age. Holbrooke had more ego, was pushy, and didn't succeed, whereas Brian forged ahead regardless of outward success and realised his dream completely.


A real artist. And an inspiration.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on April 20, 2011, 02:33:26 AM
Bantock,Bowen & Brian all seemed to have understood that creative success isn't just about personal gain. Remember that interview where Brian was asked whether he considered himself a failiure? I haven't got a transcription to hand,but I remember him telling the interviewer that he felt he had achieved everything he had set out to do. I think Brian had some aspirations early on in his career,but later on he realised that his main fulfillment in life was the act of composition.
I find some of Holbrooke's music intriguing & would have to hear some of his most important works,like 'Apollo & the Seaman' before I can really access the value of his music. I also feel a little sorry for the man,underneath all that ranting & vindictiveness he was very supportive towards his fellow composers,so I think there was some decency in the man somewhere along the line. On the other hand I have to agree with some of the dreaded David Hurwitz's comments about a lack of truly memorable thematic material & of allot of grand sounding rhetoric & gestures that ultimately seem to go nowhere. On the plus side,he DID draw some of his inspiration from living in Wales,he certainly had a flair for colourful orchestration & atmosphere & his life would probably provide allot of colourful material for a biographer. Also,his son Gwydion Brooke once sent me a very nice letter & a free Lp of his dad's music! If only he could have been a little (ALLOT!) more philosophical!
  Having said all that,I have to say that I haven't heard anything in Holbrooke's output that could possibly compare with the sheer breadth and originality of  Havergal Brian's greatest works. The same goes for Bantock,who was a superb orchestrator & whose best music probably does deserve a place in the late romantic repertory but ultimately seems to lack Brian's timeless vision. Brian's muse,unlike that of Holbrooke or Bantock seems to look to the future,whereas Holbrooke, and the more consistently inspired muse of Bantock, seem to reside very firmly in the Edwardian fin de siecle (god I hope I spelled THAT right!)
 
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on April 20, 2011, 02:43:55 AM
The original emi Lp had a wonderful photograph of Brian on the cover. A very striking cover image.

I still have the LP. Here's a scan I just made. Click to enlarge.

(http://photos.imageevent.com/sgtrock/jan2011/img609_hbrian89.jpg)


Sarge

Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on April 20, 2011, 02:51:46 AM
@Sarge I still have my copy, too. Thanks for the beautiful scan!

@Cilgwyn Excellent post. Yes, Brian is the simply the greater creative force. The man had an exceptional mental energy. I love several of Bantock's pieces - the Handley CD with the Witch of Atlas, and the Hebridean and Celtic Symphonies is superb -, but they don't surpass Brian at his best. Holbrooke I still have to hear, though I wonder whether it will add much to my already extensive knowledge of late-Romantic composers.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on April 20, 2011, 04:13:09 AM
To be fair,I think Brian and Bantock had different interests & agenda's,and Bantock was undoubtedly superb at what he did. But Brian at his best is a visionary. That's not to say that Bantock lacked vision,it just seems to have been less profound. I don't really like to compare two very different people,but in creative terms he strikes me as a sort of British version of Respighi,with his focus on pictorialism & antiquity. Although,Bantock seems to come across as the more profound of the two. I'm sure you could shared have allot of very interesting discussions with him,while Holbrooke's focus on himself & what he was doing would have soon driven you up the wall.
As to Holbrooke. I think he was very unlucky. He should have been born earlier & probably in Germany,where his flair for self promotion & barn storming ambitions might have met with a little more tolerance. And let's face it,compared to Wagner he was probably quite a nice person! On the other hand,who remembers August von Bungert,another composer with outrageous ambitions who,quite possibly,deserves re-evaluation? In many ways Holbrooke's biggest piece of bad luck (and ALLOT of other people's!) was the first world war & the change in tastes & attitudes that followed.
As to his personal spin on late romanticism. I think his eccentricity and flair for quirky & colourful orchestration and his preoccupation with bizarre subject matter like, for instance the work of Edgar Allan Poe,do give him a more interesting profile than some other forgotten late romantic composers of that colourful era. First rate,professional performances in state of the art digital sound quality of major works like 'Apollo and the Seaman' 'Queen Mab' & 'The Bells' should finally allow us to form a clearer picture of Holbrooke' true worth. I gather the late lamented Vernon Handley expressed interest. He certainly did wonders for Bantock!
Nevertheless, in my humble opinion,works like the 'Gothic Symphony','The Tiger's,'Wine of Summer',what little I've heard of 'Faust',the 'Sinfonia Tragica' & the 'tenth symphony',to name just a few, leave the former standing on so many different levels. As a matter of fact this reminds me a little of the comparisons that have been made between Bantock and Richard Strauss. Unfair yes,in certain ways. When you get to know Bantock's muse better he certainly has a distinct 'Bantockian' (for want of a better word) profile & I think you could even argue that,at best,his orchestration is more subtle or even more refined and tasteful. What he does lack,in my opinion,is Strauss's sheer breadth of range & ultimately his psychological penetration. Although,again,to be fair to Bantock ,I'm just comparing two very different people.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on April 20, 2011, 04:16:10 AM
By the way,the above scan has provided me with a very nice desktop. (The front cover of the old Lyrita of Symphonies 6 & 16 would be very nice too,hint! hint!)
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on April 20, 2011, 05:06:18 AM
By the way,the above scan has provided me with a very nice desktop. (The front cover of the old Lyrita of Symphonies 6 & 16 would be very nice too,hint! hint!)

Unfortunately I don't have the Lyrita record. I have the American made LP on HNH Records. This probably isn't the cover your're looking for but I scanned it anyway in case anyone is interested in seeing it.

(http://photos.imageevent.com/sgtrock/jan2011/hbrian616img611.jpg)


Sarge


Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Lethevich on April 20, 2011, 05:29:08 AM
On the other hand I have to agree with some of the dreaded David Hurwitz's comments about a lack of truly memorable thematic material & of allot of grand sounding rhetoric & gestures that ultimately seem to go nowhere.

Not quite as bad as William Wallace, though :)

Thanks for this post, you know far more about thow the musical scene of that time connected together than I.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on April 20, 2011, 05:43:02 AM
(http://i.ebayimg.com/00/$(KGrHqIOKj!E1sNOO5CRBNjSW6h-fw~~_12.JPG)


It was on eBay very recently... http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Havergal-Brian-Symphonies-No-6-16-LYRITA-/320679947912 (http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Havergal-Brian-Symphonies-No-6-16-LYRITA-/320679947912)...
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Lethevich on April 20, 2011, 06:10:23 AM
Hmm, I am kind of glad that one went for so little (well, for nothing, even - no bids) - I priced an EMI vinyl (I think the one Sarge linked with the profile photo) at £5 in a charity store I work at without considering that even though (at the time) it was reissued in that EMI twofer, it may have had collectable value. It sold within a day or two making me a little worried I didn't price it high enough.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on April 20, 2011, 06:54:02 AM
I'd forgotten those flowers!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on April 20, 2011, 07:22:19 AM
My comments about 'allot of grand sounding rhetoric & gestures that ultimately seem to go nowhere' could almost apply to David Hurwitz! Poor old Holbrooke.
Another extremely talented egotist I didn't mention has to be Cyril Scott.
I was wondering about that version of the Lyrita recording. I remember looking at some photos of long deleted Lp recordings on Amazon. Some of the most memorable being some very cheesy old opera sets of a very busty looking Anneliese Rothenberger. (I must have owned the 'cleaned up' versions). 'hnh records'? It looks a bit like a close up shot of a home made quilt. For some reason I rather liked the Lyrita design. The angular coloured mosaic seemed to fit in with the music in some wierd kind of way. The strange elliptical blocks of sound and the way they seemed to slowly and purposefully build up. I used to listen to the music with it propped up in front of me! I was actually disappointed when they didn't use it for the reissue!!!
  Worst 'design' for a Brian Lp could be the Aries cover photo for their state of someone else's art Lp of Brian's third symphony. Their design department was an absolute disgrace. I got my copy from 'Michael G Thomas'. Anyone remember their ads in Gramophone? And I know it's a total waste of time saying this,but I wish Myer Fredman,the LPO & Lyrita could have been able to record that most enigmatic of Brian symphonies.
As to Wiliam Wallace. 'Villons' not too bad & Hyperion should be congratulated for their usual good taste in cover paintings. (I mean the symphonic poems one).
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on April 20, 2011, 07:24:47 AM
I must start an August von Bungert thread! (Incidentally HB mentions him in his journalism). With a name like that it's hard to understand why he isn't up there with the greats!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on April 20, 2011, 08:11:45 AM
'hnh records'? It looks a bit like a close up shot of a home made quilt.

It does look like a quilt but in fact it's a painting by Robert Delaunay, Circular Forms. It's part of the Guggenheim collection. I agree with you: the Lyrita cover seems more appropriate to Brian's style.

Sarge
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on April 20, 2011, 08:39:27 AM
Oh dear,not a masterpiece I hope?
Actually,the only Havergal Brian Lp (as opposed to cd) I have left in my collection is the record of Brian's songs. In my opinion one of the best & yet most underrated Havergal Brian recordings ever released. I played it so much I practically knew all the songs by heart'

The scene: Me in the bath. Time: late evening:

Me (warbling while soaping myself): 'When Ic-eecles heng by the w-aaaal...'.(etc,etc)
Neighbour (hammering on wall) Shurrup yer tone deaf tosser!

Also,while washing up. Very,very catchy indeed. Classics which should be as admired as those of VW or Gurney.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on April 20, 2011, 12:43:20 PM
Actually,the only Havergal Brian Lp (as opposed to cd) I have left in my collection is the record of Brian's songs. In my opinion one of the best & yet most underrated Havergal Brian recordings ever released. I played it so much I practically knew all the songs by heart'

The scene: Me in the bath. Time: late evening:

Me (warbling while soaping myself): 'When Ic-eecles heng by the w-aaaal...'.(etc,etc)
Neighbour (hammering on wall) Shurrup yer tone deaf tosser!

Also,while washing up. Very,very catchy indeed. Classics which should be as admired as those of VW or Gurney.


I love the songs too. They are often very haunting, with wonderful melodic and harmonic inventions. Brian Rayner Cook and Roger Vignoles do an excellent job. And it's the same with me - I bellowed 'My soul, be strong!' in many difficult situations. Well, I didn't, but 'The Soul of Steel' is terrific, with that typically Brianic bass line. I also like 'Renunciation', which starts:


I glimpse the road that stretches white, austere,
Before you, but I cannot follow there;
Your feet are shod, your heart is full of cheer,
My heart is empty and my feet are bare.


After 'bare' there is a very characteristic hint of a (funeral) march.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on April 20, 2011, 02:16:53 PM
I downloaded mine from Amazon,but I am ashamed to say I downloaded the booklet from Toccata,which is a bit crafty I know. If I could get to the other end of my back room I would have a look at the old Lp. I seem to remember there was an odd cartoon or drawing on the front. As to ye olde cassettes,I still use them a bit. Particularly for spoken word cassettes,but cd's are obviously to be preferred,unless you can't live without side breaks. As to the songs. I'm not actually that keen on english song myself and Havergal Brian's are the only one's I've ever really enjoyed. I haven't got the booklet or poems to hand & the download is still on an external drive & I have only just started to transfer music from it onto cd-r's. But I can 'hear' Cooke's voice singing them in my head. I must do that cd-r next. Again with Brian,it's the sheer range of the songs. Some of them are quite jolly,even jaunty & full of really good hummable tunes. They should be popular! And the 'Defiled Sanctuary' makes a truly dramatic ending. You'll be apalled to know I actually used to sing that. Not very well I can assure you,although I did,unfortunately, pass my audition for the school choir (I didn't go!) A record I played over and over and over again.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on April 20, 2011, 02:26:21 PM
Yes, the range of the songs is wide. 'Care-charmer Sleep' with its last line 'and never wake to feel the day's disdain' struck a chord with me when I was in my twenties. I took up singing lessons then, too. I am a baritone, like Cook. Not as good, mind you! Singing wasn't and isn't my vocation!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Mirror Image on April 20, 2011, 06:45:56 PM
MI, if you are revisiting your recordings, the performances of the Violin Concerto, and symphonies 11 (first movement too fast, though), 12, 15, 17, 20, 25, 32 are good. I know your budget won't be limitless, but two CDs are essential in any Brian collection - the Lyrita with 6 & 16 and the new Dutton with symphonies 10 & 30, the Concerto for Orchestra and English Suite No. 3...

Johan, thanks for the recommendations. I do intend on buying more Brian recordings soon. I just bought the two Naxos re-releases with Leaper, which I didn't own, so it will be great to hear these works.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on April 21, 2011, 03:15:25 AM
I really WOULD recommend the cd of his songs. Just because it's not one of the more high profile releases,hardly anyone ever mentions it (except here)and it doesn't have the glamour of a symphony orchestra doesn't mean it isn't much good or it's not as interesting or exciting. Personally,I would quite CATEGORICALLY place it up there with the Dutton cd of sym 10 (etc),the Lyrita cd & the emi recordings as one of the best and most exciting Brian recordings ever released (commercially). As a teenager I was bored stiff by song but this one made regular returns to my Van der Molen Stereo record player. It is marvellous,a real ear opener!
As to my singing. I'm better at lighter stuff,like Gilbert & Sullivan,although 'whole lotta Rosie's' quite good fun in the bath. Brian Rayner Cooke is the 'real deal' though. (I wish I'd stuck at my choir sessions now).
I notice you emphasise the more serious songs JZH. I suppose they're the main meat. Nevertheless,I do feel the lighter side of Brian is not to be sniffed at & might appeal to some who are turned off by his more weighty stuff. I always find it astonishing that Brian was working on something like 'The Tigers' at around the same time as the 'Gothic'. Two huge,astonishingly ambitious works that are as different as the sun and moon (although there are connections eg 'Gargoyles' for example) and all from the same mind. Most of us have enough trouble working on one thing at a time,let alone on that vast scale.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on April 21, 2011, 03:20:30 AM
Oh, but I DO like the lighter songs, too! 'Lady Ellayne', for example, or 'Love is a merry game' (if that's the title). That the weightier and darker songs should strike me more is only natural (for me), but that doesn't mean I don't enjoy the lighter Brian. I do. Especially as Brian, even when he is in his 'light' mood, still manages to create something substantial.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on April 24, 2011, 02:39:51 AM
Can't have the Havergal Brian thread slipping this far down the Forum! At least not for too long.
I have now located my original Auracle Records LP of Brian's songs. Not exactly mint, (the sleeve)but intact,it includes the original song sheet. Also,the cartoon on the front cover,which I remembered from the original LP,is 'Adrian Potter' & the cartoon is by Frank Furnivall. Yet so far I am unable to find anything in the accompanying notes to explain who Adrian Potter is?! Can anyone enlighten me?
I note some other old favourites:

Take,O take those lips away
The Message
Love is a Merry Game
Piping down the Valleys Wild
The Chimney Sweeper

But then,aren't they all? A classic! According to the notes,Brian wrote around 65 songs,in all,many of which are lost. A number of them were sung by leading singers of the day,including John Coates and the still popular & indeed legendary John McCormack (If only he'd recorded some,even just one!) I wonder exactly how many extant songs remain unrecorded. I only wish I had a record label,I'd be gagging to record them!
I seem to remember reading that Brian's landlord,at the time,'CM Masterman' the author of one of the Songs ('The Soul of Steel')represented here let him live in his accomodation rent free because of his musical abilities. I only wish most of the landlord's I have come across had such good taste.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on April 24, 2011, 02:50:45 AM
Can't have the Havergal Brian thread slipping this far down the Forum! At least not for too long.
I have now located my original Auracle Records LP of Brian's songs. Not exactly mint, (the sleeve)but intact,it includes the original song sheet. Also,the cartoon on the front cover,which I remembered from the original LP,is 'Adrian Potter' & the cartoon is by Frank Furnivall. Yet so far I am unable to find anything in the accompanying notes to explain who Adrian Potter is?! Can anyone enlighten me?
I note some other old favourites:

Take,O take those lips away
The Message
Love is a Merry Game
Piping down the Valleys Wild
The Chimney Sweeper

But then,aren't they all? A classic! According to the notes,Brian wrote around 65 songs,in all,many of which are lost. A number of them were sung by leading singers of the day,including John Coates and the still popular & indeed legendary John McCormack (If only he'd recorded some,even just one!) I wonder exactly how many extant songs remain unrecorded. I only wish I had a record label,I'd be gagging to record them!
I seem to remember reading that Brian's landlord,at the time,'CM Masterman' the author of one of the Songs ('The Soul of Steel')represented here let him live in his accomodation rent free because of his musical abilities. I only wish most of the landlord's I have come across had such good taste.


This thread is already bigger than Beethoven's (which is too much honour for HB, however much I love and admire him!), so - don't be disheartened by a momentary interruption of proceedings here... I don't know who 'Adrian Potter' is, either. Frank Furnivall, on the other hand (as you will know), was Brian's son-in-law, married to his daughter Jean.


I think I'm going to download the songs (possible at Toccata Classics). I simply like them too much, to go without them!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on April 24, 2011, 03:45:11 AM
I wasn't being all that serious,actually. I'm sure things will 'pick up' quite a bit when the 'Gothic' gets performed at the Proms! (Also,Toccata Vol 2). Ludwig's admirer's needn't feel too downhearted. He's just as interesting,it's just that there have been so many umpteen recording cycles & books people eventually run out of things to say. (For example,what can you say about Beethoven's Fifth that hasn't been said a million times before?) Although you could say the same about Brian's Gothic,in some respects! I mean 'Mind boggling','bigger than Mahler's eighth',or if you don't like him,'over rated','overlong'. Who hasn't come out with any of those observations before? And there is so much by Brian that hasn't been recorded or even performed. And his career and belated discovery? It's the stuff of movies!
I must say the 'Legend for Violin & Piano' rounds off the Toccata cd very nicely indeed!


Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on April 24, 2011, 04:15:04 AM
 Many years ago I wrote down some thoughts about Brian for personal use. They are fragmentary, and I don't even subscribe to everything in them anymore. But they might be of interest to some of my fellow GMG Brianites:

"Quality control is not my business. I do not, in the following, answer the question of Brian’s “masterpieces”. What I will try to do instead is to set out what sort of an artist I think Brian is. In what kind of country does his genius hold sway, and what are its borders? If we know what he is and can, and what he doesn’t want to be and do, we won’t criticize him for not being Dmitri Vaughan Sibelius.

Brian is divided. He reacts and he constructs. He is a rational builder and an emotional player. His art is torn between structure, understood as controlled inevitability, and process, unpredictable freedom. His stated aim of “Balance of Form” shows great self-knowledge. In this dichotomy resides Brian’s power and weakness. The tension between structuring form and fracturing process, circle and line, stone and plant, Symphony and Drama, cathedral and theatre, music and language, eternity and time, whole and part, there is the heart of the Brian phenomenon. Its throb is in everything he wrote. Brian can give you a breathless report, lasting an hour, idea piled upon idea, or a concentrated epic, taking a mere minute. Because these two principles can swap their temporal character. The succes of a work depends on their fruitful cooperation. Unity in Brian is dialogical. Brian is as much a monumental Bruckner as he is a mercurial Mahler, within a piece. The ratio of one to the other decides the character.

We can speculate about its origin.

We might even see a socio-political analogue to this pair: birth and merit. The story of Brian’s life is that of a violently energetic man, trying to escape a background that crippled his chances in advance. There is something barbaric in this indefatigable journey upwards and onwards. Brian sacks the West. He devours it. No one is safe, nothing is safe, not Goethe, not Latin, not Luther. Here is Brian’s link to James Joyce and Igor Stravinsky, hubristic, voracious outsiders.

In his obsessive funeral marches he, the victim, becomes the executioner, embodying the power that threatens to crush him and his ambition. (I, for one, am not certain Das Siegeslied is the great anti-totalitarian statement. Doesn’t Wine of Summer, perhaps, point to contrition in its rarefied Englishness?).

The Gothic is the greatest testament to Brian’s hopes for himself. That is why it takes on the whole Western tradition and ends in openness and expectancy.

Part One’s Allegro and Lento are rather static, circular. The first movement  jumps from heroic striving to lyrical self-absorption, while the second movement is an unforgettable study in incremental grandeur. There is no gain, no breakthrough. Brian is staking out a giant terrain.

But the Vivace is the Gothic’s axis mundi, marrying structure and process in unforgettable perfection, it is the giant gate, on whose hinges the whole symphony (and the rest of Brian’s oeuvre) flies open, disclosing the vista of the Te Deum in all its achieved informality, where a progression similar to that of Part One is repeated on a higher level, but now as an ongoing quest, with the text almost functioning as the connecting pretext for some of the freest music Brian ever composed. (And might this, by the way, at last explain the vexed question of why the Gothic travels from D minor to E major? Does this shift not signify Brian’s ultimate favouring of process over structure, growth over order, as a symbol of liberation?)"
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on April 24, 2011, 08:19:49 AM
I'm going to have to mentally 'digest' you're post before even attempting a reply. You're vocabularly is as granitic as Brian's. And I mean that in a really good way. I particularly like you're analysis of the 'Vivace' as a kind of 'giant gate'. The colossal storm that follows is like passing through the heart of some huge star/ black hole. Somehow,you pass through on you're journey intact,but nothing is ever quite the same again. There's no going back! (But I'm not as good at analogies as you).
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on April 24, 2011, 08:30:07 AM
The text is very compact and not afraid of 'hard' words, I know... I remember wanting to express my feelings/ideas about Brian as succinctly as possible. If I ever write an essay about him, I'll travel a less 'granitic' road!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on April 24, 2011, 08:59:19 AM
Nothing wrong with a good bit of granite! It's writing like this that helped me get into Brian at the beginning. I am of course referring to the books of Malcolm Macdonald,which really helped to open up the vast 'hinterland' (as it has been described) of Brian's ouevre.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on April 27, 2011, 03:10:33 AM
Just to report my Toccata cd of Brian's songs arrived today via a seller on Amazon .I have the download on an external drive somewhere,but 'hidden away' & decided I couldn't resist the 'shiny thing'. Anyway,it is as wonderful as I remembered it,confirming my belief that this is one of the greatest of all Havergal Brian recordings. Up there with the best! The Legend for Violin & Piano rounds of it's cd incarnation very nicely indeed. If only he'd written more music for chamber & instrumental combinations. Still Brian knew what suited him best!
  With respect to the burgeoning thread (see elsewhere) about Brian's rival in the neglected maverick category,Charles Koechlin I have now dug out my 2cd set of Zinman's 'Jungle Book Cycle. But it's Brian at the moment! (Millie Jackson rounded off last night. I'm an eclectic too!!!).
Here's to Toccata's Orchestral Works Vol 2!
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on April 27, 2011, 03:26:07 AM
Just to report my Toccata cd of Brian's songs arrived today via a seller on Amazon .I have the download on an external drive somewhere,but 'hidden away' & decided I couldn't resist the 'shiny thing'. Anyway,it is as wonderful as I remembered it,confirming my belief that this is one of the greatest of all Havergal Brian recordings. Up there with the best! The Legend for Violin & Piano rounds of it's cd incarnation very nicely indeed. If only he'd written more music for chamber & instrumental combinations. Still Brian knew what suited him best!
  With respect to the burgeoning thread (see elsewhere) about Brian's rival in the neglected maverick category,Charles Koechlin I have now dug out my 2cd set of Zinman's 'Jungle Book Cycle. But it's Brian at the moment! (Millie Jackson rounded off last night. I'm an eclectic too!!!).
Here's to Toccata's Orchestral Works Vol 2!


I'm certain to listen to Koechlin. But HB will not be easily unseated. I think a favourite composer isn't your favourite for nothing - he appeals to something essential in you.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: karlhenning on April 27, 2011, 03:33:53 AM
I'm certain to listen to Koechlin [....]

At the risk of aggrandizing a tangent ; ) . . . the recent uptick in Koechlin interest has flagged for me a need to actually listen to a disc or three which I've got somewhere here.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: cilgwyn on April 27, 2011, 04:04:27 AM
He's certainly intriguing,but I don't see you swapping Koechlin for Brian any time yet! He has some relevance here,possibly,because he was an outsider & a bit of a maverick,like Langgaard. I will certainly dig out some of the cd's of Koechlin,I own......when I've finished with Brian's songs!
You often hear a critic rounding off a review of a cd of neglected music say 'only in this country'. Which of course,as Koechlin,Schmitt or Tournemire might have pointed out themselves,isn't really true. As far as I can make out Britain isn't exactly the only country with a long list of neglected composers. In fact,judging by the sterling work done by some of our small record labels & societies Britain is a bit better than some. Although,I could be wrong! France in particular seems to promote a couple of composers at the expense of so many fine ones. Ropartz,Magnard,Schmitt,Koechlin & Tournemire (his organ music aside) have all suffered. I notice that French composers who favour symphonies seem to have had a particularly hard time!
Tournemire's eight make regular visits to my cd player. With his vast list of ambitious, unperformed & colossal works he strikes me as another contender for a sort of French 'Havergal Brian' (Although,they are of course two very different composers). His Sixth and Seventh symphonies are on a mammoth scale & Tournemire's music often has a similarly dark,'gothic' quality about it. His symphonies,at least in my opinion,are in desperate need of really first class performances and recordings.
The Ropartz and Magnard cycles are magnificent. When I first received the Timpani cd's of the Ropartz symphonies I could hardly believe that (bar the 3rd) they hadn't been recorded before. Astonishing!
America and Italy are even worse.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: J.Z. Herrenberg on April 27, 2011, 04:09:11 AM
A very good friend of mine played some Tournemire to me 20 years ago, an organ piece. I never forgot it. I have a few symphonies of his, but haven't come round yet to listening to them. I find I have to make mental space for new composers and must really feel an urge to listen to them. Otherwise I won't be receptive enough to be able to hear them at all.
Title: Re: Havergal Brian.
Post by: Sergeant Rock on April 27, 2011, 04:26:05 AM
Tournemire...I have a few symphonies of his, but haven't come round yet to listening to them. I find I have to make mental space for new composers and must really feel an urge to listen to them.

No rush, Johan, but I think you will like him. He was a complete unknown to me until just a few months ago when Lethe posted intriguing comments on the listening thread. I have all the symphonies now (save the Sixth and Seventh) and love them all. The end of the first movement of the First came as quite a shock. It's as though Bruckner were French and his obsessive compulsive need for repetition finally sends him over the edge: makes him mentally crack  :D

Sarge
Title: Re: Havergal Bri