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The Complete Havergal Brian Songbook, Vol. 1

Brian / Stone / Stone / Kynoch
Release Date: 07/10/2012 
Label:  Stone Records   Catalog #: 8015   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Havergal Brian
Performer:  Sholto KynochJonathan StoneMark Stone
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 9 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Havergal Brian’s songs haven’t had the attention on disc that they deserve. Concentration has largely focused, for obvious reasons, on his significant symphonic canvass of works led by the you-know-what symphony. Unlike The Gothic the songs are on a wholly reduced scale, nakedly employing voice and piano. They reveal another Brian, sometimes not a very predictable or even recognisable Brian.
 
This recital by Mark Stone and pianist Sholto Kynoch makes a good case for this body of work to be taken seriously. They make a most effective team, enjoying the melancholy moments as much as those clearly predicated on a fully orchestral view of the keyboard writing. Since the pieces span a quarter of a century of Brian’s
Read more compositional life we can trace his development with a degree of clarity. There is the early tristesse of Sorrow song or the eager intensity of The message with its fizzing textual scorn and hints of Elgar.
 
In response to a previous, unsympathetic review of this disc, a contributor to this site’s message board suggested that listeners acquaint themselves with the old recording of some Brian songs made by Brian Rayner Cook and pianist Roger Vignoles [Toccata TOCC0005]. I don’t have the CD transfer but I do have the LP from which it derives, recorded for Auracle (AUC1003). As suggested, I did listen. What I hear is a contrast of interpretations, as one might have predicted, where the same songs are covered. To take these early songs first: in Sorrow song Stone is neither as full toned nor quite a passionate as Rayner Cook. But he is a touch more conversational. In The message Rayner Cook and Vignoles take a somewhat more relaxed tempo with more explicit rubato. Arguably, they find more scorn, though there’s less headlong rush. Both catch the intensity and anguish of The soul of steel very well and I wouldn’t care to adjudicate between them. In Since love is dead Stone is quicker, more direct, whilst Rayner Cook is more thoughtfully paced; once again both convince on their own terms. So it goes. But I would say that I prefer Rayner Cook’s rhythmic zest and uplift in When icicles hang by the wall: Stone strikes me as a touch bluff here. There’s also a touch less rigidity and more affection in the older pairing’s phrasing in Take, O, take those lips away. Here I’d certainly prefer Rayner Cook and Vignoles.
 
Little Sleeper Op. 13a is a hypnotic little prayer, John Dowland’s Fancy a solo piano piece full of Brianesque drollery. The Three Unison Songs show us Brian’s lighter side - and he did have a lighter side - whilst When I lie ill gives us a solid march tempo.
 
We also have the bonus of the Legend, for violin and piano played by Jonathan Stone and Kynoch.
 
The booklet has been beautifully laid out and designed. Good to have full texts on such attractive paper too and in such a well judged font though it is a little undersized. Upping the point size would bring better clarity, especially as the poetry is set in italics.
 
Finally, what should you do if you have the Toccata and are puzzled by this new disc? Should you get it for the songs that are new to disc? If you are sympathetic to Brian, then I’d say yes, most certainly. I happen to prefer the Rayner Cook/Vignoles interpretations on the whole, for tonal, technical and interpretative reasons, but I don’t always prefer them, and not really by so very much. I think this exploratory first disc in the Brian series is well worth a listen.
 
-- Jonathan Woolf , MusicWeb International Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Three Songs for Contralto or Baritone, Op. 6 by Havergal Brian
Performer:  Sholto Kynoch (Piano), Jonathan Stone (Violin), Mark Stone ()
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 1901 
Venue:  Potton Hall, Suffolk, U.K. 
Length: 9 Minutes 17 Secs. 
2.
Little Sleeper, song for voice & piano, Op. 13a by Havergal Brian
Performer:  Jonathan Stone (Violin), Sholto Kynoch (Piano), Mark Stone ()
Period: Post-Romantic 
Written: 1906 
Venue:  Potton Hall, Suffolk, U.K. 
Length: 5 Minutes 29 Secs. 
3.
Prelude "John Dowland's Fancy," for piano by Havergal Brian
Performer:  Sholto Kynoch (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Venue:  Potton Hall, Suffolk, U.K. 
Length: 2 Minutes 48 Secs. 
4.
A Faery Song, for voice & piano, Op. 13c by Havergal Brian
Performer:  Jonathan Stone (Violin), Sholto Kynoch (Piano), Mark Stone ()
Period: Post-Romantic 
Written: 1922 
Venue:  Potton Hall, Suffolk, U.K. 
Length: 2 Minutes 6 Secs. 
5.
The Soul of Steel, for voice & piano by Havergal Brian
Performer:  Sholto Kynoch (Piano), Jonathan Stone (Violin), Mark Stone ()
Period: Modern 
Venue:  Potton Hall, Suffolk, U.K. 
Length: 4 Minutes 30 Secs. 
6.
Since Love is Dead, for voice & piano by Havergal Brian
Performer:  Jonathan Stone (Violin), Sholto Kynoch (Piano), Mark Stone ()
Period: Modern 
Venue:  Potton Hall, Suffolk, U.K. 
Length: 2 Minutes 34 Secs. 
7.
Legend, for violin & piano by Havergal Brian
Performer:  Jonathan Stone (Violin), Sholto Kynoch (Piano)
Period: Modern 
Venue:  Potton Hall, Suffolk, U.K. 
Length: 6 Minutes 52 Secs. 
8.
When Icicles Hang by the Wall, for voice & piano by Havergal Brian
Performer:  Jonathan Stone (Violin), Sholto Kynoch (Piano), Mark Stone ()
Period: Modern 
Venue:  Potton Hall, Suffolk, U.K. 
Length: 2 Minutes 11 Secs. 
9.
Care-Charmer Sleep, for voice & piano by Havergal Brian
Performer:  Jonathan Stone (Violin), Sholto Kynoch (Piano), Mark Stone ()
Period: Modern 
Venue:  Potton Hall, Suffolk, U.K. 
Length: 4 Minutes 21 Secs. 
10.
Take, O Take Those Lips Away, for voice & piano by Havergal Brian
Performer:  Jonathan Stone (Violin), Sholto Kynoch (Piano), Mark Stone ()
Period: Modern 
Venue:  Potton Hall, Suffolk, U.K. 
Length: 1 Minutes 5 Secs. 
11.
The Mountain and the Squirrel, song for voice & piano by Havergal Brian
Performer:  Jonathan Stone (Violin), Sholto Kynoch (Piano), Mark Stone ()
Period: Post-Romantic 
Written: 1913 
Venue:  Potton Hall, Suffolk, U.K. 
Length: 1 Minutes 24 Secs. 
12.
The Lost Doll, song for voice & piano by Havergal Brian
Performer:  Jonathan Stone (Violin), Sholto Kynoch (Piano), Mark Stone ()
Period: Post-Romantic 
Written: 1913; United Kingdom 
Venue:  Potton Hall, Suffolk, U.K. 
Length: 1 Minutes 24 Secs. 
13.
What Does Little Birdie Say, song for voice & piano by Havergal Brian
Performer:  Jonathan Stone (Violin), Sholto Kynoch (Piano), Mark Stone ()
Period: Post-Romantic 
Written: 1913 
Venue:  Potton Hall, Suffolk, U.K. 
Length: 1 Minutes 25 Secs. 
14.
Illuminations (3) for solo piano by Havergal Brian
Performer:  Sholto Kynoch (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Venue:  Potton Hall, Suffolk, U.K. 
Length: 5 Minutes 27 Secs. 
15.
Soliloquy Upon a Dead Child, song for voice & piano, Op. 13a by Havergal Brian
Performer:  Jonathan Stone (Violin), Sholto Kynoch (Piano), Mark Stone ()
Period: Post-Romantic 
Venue:  Potton Hall, Suffolk, U.K. 
Length: 5 Minutes 29 Secs. 
16.
Three Songs for Tenor, Op. 13b by Havergal Brian
Performer:  Jonathan Stone (Violin), Sholto Kynoch (Piano), Mark Stone ()
Period: Post-Romantic 
Written: 1906 
Venue:  Potton Hall, Suffolk, U.K. 
Length: 10 Minutes 48 Secs. 

Sound Samples

3 Songs, Op. 6: No. 1. Sorrow Song
3 Songs, Op. 6: No. 2. The Message
3 Songs, Op. 6: No. 3. Farewell
Little Sleeper, Op. 13a
Prelude, "John Dowland's Fancy"
A Faery Song, Op. 13c
The Soul of Steel
Since love is dead: Since Love is Dead
Legend
When Icicles Hang by the Wall
Care-Charmer Sleep
Take, O Take Those Lips Away: Take, oh take those lips away
The Mountain and the Squirrel
The Lost Doll
What does little birdie say?
3 Illuminations (version for piano): No. 1. The Boys and the Pastille
3 Illuminations (version for piano): No. 2. The Butterfly's Waltz
3 Illuminations (version for piano): No. 3. Venus and a Bobby
Soliloquy upon a Dead Child, Op. 13a
3 Songs, Op. 13b: No. 1. Day and night
3 Songs, Op. 13b: No. 2. When I lie ill
3 Songs, Op. 13b: No. 3. If I could speak

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