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Brian: Symphony No. 1 'The Gothic' [Import]

Havergal Brian , Martyn Brabbins , BBC Concert Orchestra , BBC National Chorus of Wales Audio CD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Performer: BBC National Chorus of Wales
  • Orchestra: BBC Concert Orchestra
  • Conductor: Martyn Brabbins
  • Composer: Havergal Brian
  • Audio CD (December 13, 2011)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Hyperion
  • ASIN: B005Z4D2EW
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #144,120 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Disc: 1
1. Allegro assai (Part I - Symphony No. 1 in D minor - The Gothic)
2. Lento espressivo e solenne
3. Vivace
4. Te Deum laudamus: Allegro moderato (Part 2)
Disc: 2
1. Iudex crederis esse venturus: Adagio molto solenne e religioso
2. Te ero, quaesumus: Moderato e molto sostenuto
3. Applause

Editorial Reviews


Brabbins and his hordes did a truly magnificent job, and those who were there are unlikely to forget the experience. --The Guardian

Far and away the finest [performance] it has received. Hyperion s release is a perfect one, of a great event, a magisterial work and an encapsulation of the enormous difficulties of the project as a whole. --Gramophone

Martyn Brabbins has the two orchestras playing the often virtuoso writing amazingly well for a single live performance. The horns in the scherzo observe all of their dynamic nuances correctly, and the xylophone player tackles Brian's patently insane part with stunning brilliance. Most importantly, the choirs actually make music out of Brian's densely woven counterpoint... The disc includes more than eight minutes of applause at the end, and though you'd be crazy to listen to it even once, it was certainly well-earned. --Classics Today

Product Description

In July 2011, over 800 performers gathered in London s Royal Albert Hall to give a rare performance of Havergal Brian s Symphony No.1 in D minor 'The Gothic'. Although tickets for this Prom sold out within 24 hours, we are fortunate that Hyperion recorded the performance, making it available to all. The symphony is a phenomenal work. Responding to the challenge set by Sir Henry Wood, the composer has thrown just about every known orchestral instrument into the mix, then adding a double chorus of over 500, plus children s choirs, for an hour-long Te Deum that makes up the symphony s finale. Martyn Brabbins leads these massive forces in a benchmark performance. Whether or not you were lucky enough to be there on the night, this is a recording not to be missed.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
Format:Audio CD
Sometimes positively, sometimes mockingly, some reviews of the performance from which this recording derives likened the "Gothic" to a huge, lurching, creaking, ramshackle roller-coaster--YES! That's part of the attraction, and, just as with roller coasters, it's intentional. The architectural style of Gothic cathedrals which was part of Brian's inspiration is NOT comfortable. It is meant to inspire awe before the unknown. In places, it is intentionally grotesque--what's a Gothic cathedral without gargoyles? Just as often, the music is quiet and restrained.

Last summer, I was one of many listeners in the USA who eagerly awaited the BBC Radio 3 broadcast of the Proms performance of this unique masterpiece. I recorded it to my computer, and was thrilled by the careful preparation and high technical level of the performers, as well as Martyn Brabbin's direction of the flow of this musical tsunami--one of the two or three most coherent performances we've had yet. However, I felt that the sound was dry and lacked hall ambience. This Hyperion release supplies hall ambience in spades, and the result is hair-raising. The sound is rich and real, yet EVERYTHING can be heard--even the low bass has clarity and definition. Heretofore, I had found the atmosphere of this performance a little disappointing. Hyperion has restored the missing element--a much greater degree of physical presence that was not in the broadcast sound. Brabbins' interpretation now joins the visionary performances of Boult and Schmidt at the summit, and it has smoother sound and clearer textural balances than either they or NAXOS' Lenard. It is now clearly the first choice.

I've now heard recordings of ALL of the major performances of this stupendous piece (Boult, Schmidt, Lenard, Curro).
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Please, more Havergal Brian, Please! December 13, 2011
Format:Audio CD
My delight in this new recording of Havergal Brian's majesterial Symphony No. 1 "Gothic" is unending. I am a huge Havergal Brian fan, and simply cannot understand why he is not more widely embraced than he is. That said, this recording fills a niche that was sorely lacking in the market--a modern recording of the Gothic with a conductor of the stature of Martyn Brabbins. The forces marshalled here are definitely up to the challenge of this notoriously grand and intense score, and they approach it with a joy and passion that make its huge passages sound regal and beautiful, and not merely bombastic. The Te Deum keeps up a perfect pace, never lagging, never letting you move your attention away from that glorious singing. In comparison to the very very fine recording from Ondrej Lenárd and his Czecho-Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra, I think I need more time to get the feel of Brabbins. Lenárd's has become a part of my listening routine, and hearing Brabbins new take on some of the passages is a little surprising, and quite refreshing. It left me scrambling for my other recordings, to compare the pieces. I think that Brabbin's recording is quite immediate sounding, and may be a bit brighter in places. The words are perhaps a touch more understandable with Brabbins as well, but none of this is a knock on my beloved Lenárd recording. If there is space in your heart for Havergal Brian, there is certainly space for more than one recording of his Gothic Symphony. Anyway, my only hope is that this record will kindle demand for a complete Havergal Brian set (I know, that would be a monumental task). Brian's later symphonies are often completely unavailable, unrecorded, and we need them. Bravo for this exciting recording, and now please give us more!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Format:Audio CD
This is far and away the most coherent performance of Brian's massive 1st Symphony I have ever heard. Admittedly there haven't been too many of them - the gargantuan forces it requires have seen to that, never mind Brian's lack of popularity. Bryan Fairfax's premiere back in 1961 was blest with a fine array of soloists including Kenneth Bowen and John Shirley-Quirk, but was otherwise a fairly ramshackle affair. Boult five years later is the performance I have listened to most often over the past half-century (on a private tape from the BBC transmission) and is now available on a testament CD. Boult and his massed forces certainly have much more the measure of this huge juggernaut of a symphony, but sadly the BBC engineers never really got to grips with the aural demands of the work. Too often the extremely complex counterpoint - particularly in the choral second half - disappears in a disappointing mush of sound. The Marco Polo discs with Lenard and his Slovak forces at least made the work more readily available and it's in stereo. But that's about all that can be said for it. They are so far off the idiom of the piece that their performance becomes almost counterproductive in trying to come to terms with it.

So this much lauded performance from last year's Proms comes as something of a revelation. At last we can hear the Gothic in all its true glory. And glorious it certainly is.

At last we have the sort of sound quality this piece absolutely demands. The Albert Hall acoustic is reverberant (as it always is), but not enough to muddy the waters of the multiple strands of counterpoint that are so characteristic of the composer.
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Topic From this Discussion
Dear Mr. Knokey,
The Hyperion Records website offers this recording for download in MP3, FLAC and ALAC formats. The price for any one of them is £12.49. Hope this helps.
Best wishes,
Dace Gisclard
Dec 31, 2011 by Dace Gisclard |  See all 2 posts
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