From my collection.
Bought in 2010
First listen: 6-12-2010.
Second listen: 1-4-2014.
Third listen: 24-5-2017.
Label: Naxos. (Previously released as Marco Polo)
Recording dates: 1992.
Recording venue: National Concert Hall, Dublin.
Recording engineer: Chris Craker. ( A educated guess, for the sound man is not mentioned.)
Running time: 59:37
Relevance to me: Essential.
Tone Poem: In Memoriam. (1910)
Festal Dance. (1908)
Symphony No. 17 (1960-61) and No. 32. (1968)
RTE National SO, Adrian Leaper.
The Tone Poem is easily one of the most beautiful works that I have heard from Brian so far. Its magnificently scored, just listen at the third movement around 2: 35 to the very end of this movement, absolutely magical. It has a stamina quite unusual, and power to stay on a concentrated level, without losing the tension on the strings. Remarkable.
The Festal Dance is quite another meal, when it starts in the Allegro vivo mood, indeed a dance with fleeting melodies, like little bolts of fire, and a surge of violins that keep you on edge. Some funky rhythms too, it keeps this work firmly in place, and is a lot of fun, going over in misterioso, albeit a happy foray into this realm, the dance rhythms are still on duty, with some march like brass into the bargain too. Very nice.
The first movement of the 17th symphony has a very solemn introduction, more misterioso as the Adagio, Allegro moderato tells us. And then the percussion sets in and the game is afoot. A beautiful elegiac second movement, albeit too short, there are moments in it that are truly magical. A very short and boisterous end to this symphony.
And then No 32. This is a well balanced and harmonious work, with no harsh episodes, and rather well thought out. I like it very much. It being Brian's last work, is doesn't sound like a final statement, or the end of the road. What I hear in both the 17th and 32 th Symphony is a continuous and multitudinous contrast of mood and texture in a bewildering rapidity. He never lingers long on a certain theme but is constantly pushing forwards. That is a life affirming statement for me if anything! He lived for another 4 years without any musical thoughts, but enjoyed the silence. He had said all he had to say I guess. After all Sibelius followed the same road, albeit much longer. I always wondered about that.
The performance strikes me as good, and the sound certainly is better as some recordings with Brian's music recorded on Marco Polo. There is only some hardness when the music bounces around the concert Hall.
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