Monday, May 29, 2017

Brian Havergal. (1876-1972) Symphonies No. 20 & 25.

From my collection.
Bought in 2011.
First listen: 12-2-2014.
Second listen: 5-4-2014.
Third listen: 29-5-2017.
Label: Naxos 8.572641. (Previously released on Marco Polo)
Recording dates: October 1994.
Recording venue: Concert Hall of Ukrainian Radio.
Recording engineer: Andrew Mokrytsky.
Running time: 62:44.
Relevance to me: Essential.

Works.

1) Fantastic Variations on a old Rhyme. (1907)
2) Symphony no. 20 in C sharp minor. (1962)
3) Symphony No. 25 in A minor. (1966)

Performers.

National SO of Ukraine, Andrew Penny.

Havergal Brian, despite his beautiful name is not everyone's cup of tea. He takes considerable more effort to comprehend as most other British composers. His compositions are often complex, but offer plenty of lucidity for those that persevere in listening to his works. Throughout several years I collected all his orchestral works, safe for those that have vocal contributions, and that alas is his first and fourth, to name a few. This CD holds three major works out of his oeuvre, of which the first two compositions take almost no effort to comprehend, while No. 25 demands more dedication to get at the core of this work.

The Variations are simply on the charming level of Brian's British character, and are extremely pleasing to the ear, while with the Symphony No. 20, the second movement shows all the beauty Brian was capable of. The Cantabile element has so much gravitas and expression, quite amazing actually. The visceral beauty of the work as a whole, gives it grandeur as well as weight. A fine example of his art which shows again and again the formidable construction and harmonic ingenuity.
No 25 is in essence a more complex work, that needs quite an effort from orchestra/conductor and listener alike. At one side you have restrained expressivity which provides easeful balm, and on the other side it can be deceptively sedate, which in my view eloquently depicts the eternal issue of the soul's pilgrimage, and more so of Brian's search for the ultimate expression. So I learn and listen and hopefully comprehend what he actually meant when writing down his music.
The performances are very good, and the sound is so far the best I heard in this series.
Recommended.



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