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Brian: Symphonies Nos. 8, 21 & 26 / Walker, New Russia State Symphony


Release Date: 10/13/2017 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8573752  
Composer:  Havergal Brian
Conductor:  Alexander Walker
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Russia State Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Each of the three symphonies on this recording represents a significant milestone in Havergal Brian’s long musical journey, and each demonstrates the breadth of his symphonic approach. No. 8 was the first of Brian’s symphonies to be performed and is one of his most gripping and unpredictable, full of sonic invention. Behind the more apparently genial and expansive No. 21 lies profound emotional complexity, while No. 26 embodies elements of a divertimento though it retains disquieting outbursts. Gramophone wrote of the previous Brian recording by these forces: “The New Russia State Symphony Orchestra do the music proud.” This issue completes the commercial recording of all 32 of Brian’s symphonies. Each of the three symphonies on this recording represents a significant milestone in Havergal Brian’s long musical journey, and each demonstrates the breadth of his symphonic approach. No. 8 was the first of Brian’s symphonies to be performed and is one of his most gripping and unpredictable, full of sonic invention. Behind the more apparently genial and expansive No. 21 lies profound emotional complexity, while No. 26 embodies elements of a divertimento though it retains disquieting outbursts. Gramophone wrote of the previous Brian recording by these forces: “The New Russia State Symphony Orchestra do the music proud.” This issue completes the commercial recording of all 32 of Brian’s symphonies. Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Symphony no 8 in B flat minor by Havergal Brian
Conductor:  Alexander Walker
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Russia State Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1949; England 
2.
Symphony no 21 in E-Flat Major by Havergal Brian
Conductor:  Alexander Walker
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Russia State Symphony Orchestra
3.
Symphony no 26 by Havergal Brian
Conductor:  Alexander Walker
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Russia State Symphony Orchestra

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Superbly Performed, But A Real Challenge! December 16, 2017 By Henry S. (Springfield, VA) See All My Reviews "The music of British composer Havergal Brian continues to be nothing less than an enigma to this reviewer (although not necessarily a totally negative one), and this new Naxos recording is no exception. Symphony # 8 (1949) is a single movement work of 23 minutes duration. Meandering all over the place in terms of theme and lacking any sort of cohesive structure, it nevertheless presents an intriguing kaleidoscope of orchestral dynamics and colorations before simply fading away. I found the second work on the recording, Symphony # 21 (1963) to offer a wider variety of aesthetic possibilities. First, it is a 'standard' four movement symphony, with normal movement markings. (I use the word 'standard' very cautiously here, as that may be a real stretch with reference to Havergal Brian). Second, embedded in the work's four movements is a detectable level of discipline, structural integrity, and an overall sense of clearer thinking on the part of the composer, as reflected in the different compositional ingredients (themes, tempos, dynamics) which are requisite components of any high quality symphony. Nevertheless, there is still that characteristically Brian trait of 'wandering' through some powerfully expressive musical statements. Overall, though, I think that Symphony # 21 far outshines Symphony # 8 in terms of gravitas and appeal. Finally, Symphony # 26 (1966), a 3 movement work, takes a significantly shorter musical journey (less than 18 minutes)and seems to continue Brian's attraction for high octane, scorching orchestral climaxes intermingled with short interludes of calm and pathos. It is definitely a sonic adventure! So despite my apparent ambivalence about the quality of this music, I do think it merits some honest and serious listening. In that regard, the excellent playing of the New Russia State Symphony Orchestra makes a strong case for Havergal Brian. Sonically, this disk is close to audiophile, demonstration quality. In short, this recording will definitely challenge you, but it is clearly worth accepting this challenge." Report Abuse
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