Notes & Reviews:
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 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.
"As ideas tumble forth in Havergal Brian’s epic scheme, you cannot help admiring his fervour in getting it all down on paper. It remains one of the oddities of the English symphonic repertoire, but Martyn Brabbins and his legions of players and singers do it proud." -The Daily Telegraph
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... [Brabbins emphasises] the kaleidoscopic variety of speeds, textures and invention in the score. Aided by Hyperion's sensational sound, details which barely registered before become crystal clear... I cannot recommend it strongly enough.
International Record Review
Credit to Martyn Brabbins for overseeing a performance which emphatically does not play it safe: enabling the piece to be appreciated for a formal evolution as oblique and purposeful as is its emotional progression... the discreet but intent control exerted over the vast numbers leaves no doubt as to his conviction. That the capacity audience betrays so few sign of its presence says much in itself.
The Arts Desk
Where to begin? This is a hugely impressive record of a great performance, but I'm not convinced that this is great music. But you can't help feeling thankful that once in a generation we're given the chance to hear something of this magnitude and judge the results for ourselves
BBC Music Magazine
The best [recording] yet. There's an ongoing buzz of Proms atmosphere that grips from start to finish; and the recorded sound succeeds phenomenally at somehow fitting Brian's hugest climaxes alongside the delicate scoring of other passages into a convincing perspective. Under Brabbins's forthright direction, even the work's poorer passages (and whatever Brian's fanatical supporters say, there are plenty) don't sprawl.
Recording information: BBC Proms, Royal Albert Hall, London, England (07/17/2011).
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Works DetailsBrian, Havergal : Symphony no 1 in D minor for soloists, chorus, brass bands & orchestra, "The Gothic"
- Conductor: Martyn Brabbins
- Ensemble: BBC Concert Orchestra
- Running Time: 12 min. 9 sec.
- Period Time: Post Romantic
- Form: Orchestral
- Studio/Live: Live
Sound, Recorded : Applause
- Running Time: 8 min. 40 sec.
- Period Time: Medieval
- Studio/Live: Live