Havergal Brian: Symphonies Nos. 7 & 16 (CD)

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New Russia State Symphony Orchestra, Alexander Walker

Havergal Brian’s late creativity is almost unparalleled in musical history- in the last two decades of his life he wrote 25 symphonies. No. 7, the last of his truly large-scale symphonies, was inspired by Goethe’s autobiographical account of his time as a student in Strasbourg. Symphony No. 16 is a tough single-movement work, evoking Ancient Greece and the savagery of the Persian Wars. In bright contrast The Tinker’s Wedding is a sparkling comedy overture based on the play by J.M. Synge. The New Russia State Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1990. In 2002 Yuri Bashmet became its director, opening a new chapter in its history and bringing his own inimitable manner of interpretation, whereby each concert evokes the feeling that the music is being created anew.

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The Classical Music Collector

"In case there is anyone out there who has not heard the story, Havergal Brian was a British composer, somewhat neglected by the mainstream, who wrote a Gothic Symphony that requires a thousand performers and lasts almost two hours. Surprisingly, there have been several notable performances of the work, and there is a recording of a Prom performance on the Hyperion label. Not content with this feat, he then proceeded to write a further 31 symphonies, the earlier ones also still large-scale but gradually becoming more concise—the last 25 were written in the final 20 years of his life. Symphony No. 7, the first one on this CD, is the last of his extended symphonic utterances, and although it is written in a glorious C major, it has a rhythmic and melodic complexity that is rivetingly interesting. Brian’s music is often somewhat on the strange side, which I suspect is one of his chief appeals. By comparison, the other Symphony on this important Naxos release, No. 16, is a compressed single-movement work that derives its ideas from the Persian Wars, and has a distinctly archaic and subtly martial flavour. Balancing these two dense and impressive works is a light-hearted overture, The Tinker's Wedding, which shows Brian in a completely other light." - Chris Dench


Havergal Brian

1. The Tinker's Wedding: Overture

Symphony No. 7 in C Major
2. I. Allegro moderato
3. II. Allegro moderato ma maestoso
4. III. Adagio - Allegro moderato - Adagio
5. IV. Epilogue: Once upon a time: Moderato

6. Symphony No. 16