From my collection.
Bought in 2016.
First listen: 20-5-2016.
Second listen: 7-11-2016.
Recording dates: December 2014.
Recording venue: Liepaja Latvian Society House, Latvia.
Recording engineer: Normunds Slava.
Running time: 62:44.
Classical relevance: Worthwhile especially if you like full romantic music.
Ellangowan: Concert Overture, opus 12. (1909)
Symphony in F minor, opus 23. (1922)
Performed by: Liepaja, SO, Paul Mann.
I never before heard of this composer, let alone hear some of his compositions. Toccata always surprises me with the composers they dig out of obscurity. Sometimes that is worth the trouble, and sometimes not so. In the case of O'Brien however it is fully justified, for we have a thoroughbred romantic on our hands, who was quite capable writing music that impress by their sheer melodiousness, and for his creative turn of mind, plus a very refreshing take on romantic music. He may not be the musical revolutionary you expect, but what is on offer is special and deeply invigorating. His music is a joy from beginning to end, and nothing in between that would mar the pleasure for your ears. For starters we get the overture Ellangowan, music with a lot of Scottish folk influences, not of the Scottish granite type, but more the glowing hills and dales, a tad more harmonious as the rugged Scottish mentality. He is more refined and careful in his approach, but by no means without some powerful statements in his music.
The Symphony in a monumental work of some importance, which has to pay some due to Brahms F minor Symphony, from which you will find traces back in O'Brien's work. His musical idiom has matured considerably between Ellangowan and the F minor work. It is rhythmically and musically stronger in expression, and is less dancing all over the place as Ellangowan, although that was fun too. The musical expression is in both works strong, in their own way. A romantic extravaganza of the first order, and strongly recommended. What a pity he only wrote one Symphony....
The recording does full justice to the sonorities of both works, and this orchestra knows how to handle it all. Full marks for them and conductor.
Monday, November 7, 2016
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