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Brian: Symphonies No 20 & 25 / Penny, National Symphony Orchestra Of Ukraine

> Fantastic Variations on an Old Rhyme - I. Andante
> Fantastic Variations on an Old Rhyme - II. Allegro molto
> Fantastic Variations on an Old Rhyme - III. Con moto e espressione
> Fantastic Variations on an Old Rhyme - IV. Allegro vivace
> Fantastic Variations on an Old Rhyme - V. Lento
> Symphony No. 20 in C sharp minor - I. Adagio - Allegro agitato -
> Symphony No. 20 in C sharp minor - I. (formal development section arrives) -
> Symphony No. 20 in C sharp minor - I. (vigorous, highly allusive development of the first theme) -
> Symphony No. 20 in C sharp minor - I. Coda
> Symphony No. 20 in C sharp minor - II. Adagio ma non troppo, cantabile e sostenuto -
> Symphony No. 20 in C sharp minor - II. (a bridge passage beginning with violin and flute solos) -
> Symphony No. 20 in C sharp minor - II. (a development of the original polyphonic complex) -
> Symphony No. 20 in C sharp minor - II. (the third span begins with a musing clarinet solo)
> Symphony No. 20 in C sharp minor - III. Allegro vivo -
> Symphony No. 20 in C sharp minor - III. Lento -
> Symphony No. 20 in C sharp minor - III. (a kind of slow waltz, with violin solo) -
> Symphony No. 20 in C sharp minor - III. Allegro -
> Symphony No. 20 in C sharp minor - III. (reappearence of the rondo-theme on trombones)
> Symphony No. 20 in C sharp minor - III. (fast Coda)
> Symphony No. 25 in A minor - I. Allegro risoluto -
> Symphony No. 25 in A minor - I. (the motto returns again to initiate an eventful development) -
> Symphony No. 25 in A minor - I. (elegantly lyrical tune for oboe with flute and harp accompaniment) -
> Symphony No. 25 in A minor - I. (sinister reiterations of a 3-note figure) -
> Symphony No. 25 in A minor - I. (the return of the 4-note motto) -
> Symphony No. 25 in A minor - I. (a mysterious episode of nagging triplet rhythms) -
> Symphony No. 25 in A minor - I. Coda
> Symphony No. 25 in A minor - II. Andante cantabile -
> Symphony No. 25 in A minor - II. (a poignant new idea, first heard on solo oboe) -
> Symphony No. 25 in A minor - II. (opening theme now returns on cellos) -
> Symphony No. 25 in A minor - II. (a more defined march-music takes over) -
> Symphony No. 25 in A minor - II. (final return of the main theme)
> Symphony No. 25 in A minor - III. Allegro ma non tanto -
> Symphony No. 25 in A minor - III. Lento -
> Symphony No. 25 in A minor - III. (a little woodwind cadenza leads back to the rondo music) -
> Symphony No. 25 in A minor - III. (a different and irreverent snatch of folk-song from a bassoon)

Album Summary

>Brian, Havergal : Fantastic Variations on an Old Rhyme for organ
>Brian, Havergal : Symphony no 20 in C sharp minor
>Brian, Havergal : Symphony no 25 in A minor
Conductor Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

Havergal Brian was one of the most remarkable of twentieth century symphonists, whose reputation for the gargantuan has tended to overshadow the more concise nature of his later music. His Symphony No. 20 for instance, written in 1962, is compact, thematically sophisticated, and deeply expressive. Both it and No. 25 (1966) abandon Brian's previous practice of one-movement symphonies in favor of the more classical three movements. Symphony No. 25 has beautiful melodies channeled within a wholly logical structure and is one of Brian's most distinguished late works.

"As to the Twentieth and Twenty-fifth symphonies, both are in a conventional three-movement format and are very personal in their sound textures, orchestras finding that aspect difficult in its interrelated intonation. With total commitment the Ukraine musicians enter into the dramatic outbursts and quirky moments that permeate both scores, the recorded sound being very good." -David's Review Corner

Gramophone
I write this a few days before the Gothic's Proms premiere, its first complete performance in the UK for 31 years. So this year's 21st anniversary reissue of Ondrej Lenárd's pioneering Marco Polo recording, on Naxos (with the rebranded Slovak - not Czechoslovak - RSO, I notice) in a limited Ondrej Lenárd's pioneering Marco Polo recording, on Naxos (with the rebranded Slovak - not Czechoslovak - RSO, I notice) in a limited edition, is most timely. Michael Oliver was lyrical in his original review of both work and performance, which overcame his previous misgivings about the music and its creator. Lenárd's account still sounds well in Günter Appenheimer's expert recording, though since then it has been challenged by Testament's archival release of Boult's 1966 professional premiere. I outlined the pros and cons of both in my review of the latter last year so won't repeat myself; suffice it to say, though, that both recordings serve Brian's vision superbly, and both grace my shelves.

MusicWeb International
The opening variations on Three Blind Mice are something of a virtuoso tour de force and they come off least well, perhaps because the orchestra were unfamiliar with the underlying 'old rhyme'. The two symphonies are not the easiest of nuts to crack, but they will reward your perseverance and all concerned make a strong case for them.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Concert Hall, Ukrainian Radio (10/28/1994-10/30/1994).



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Works Details

>Brian, Havergal : Fantastic Variations on an Old Rhyme for organ
  • Conductor: Andrew Penny
  • Ensemble: National Symphony Orchestra Of Ukraine
  • Notes: Concert Hall, Ukrainian Radio (10/28/1994-10/30/1994)
  • Running Time: 2 min. 33 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic

>Brian, Havergal : Symphony no 20 in C sharp minor
  • Conductor: Andrew Penny
  • Ensemble: National Symphony Orchestra Of Ukraine
  • Notes: Concert Hall, Ukrainian Radio (10/28/1994-10/30/1994)
  • Running Time: 2 min. 35 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Form: Orchestral

>Brian, Havergal : Symphony no 25 in A minor
  • Conductor: Andrew Penny
  • Ensemble: National Symphony Orchestra Of Ukraine
  • Notes: Concert Hall, Ukrainian Radio (10/28/1994-10/30/1994)
  • Running Time: 3 min. 17 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Form: Orchestral