Notes & Reviews:
Havergal Brian's monumental 'Gothic Symphony', the first of 32 symphonies, with combined forces of around 1000 musicians is possibly the largest-scale symphony ever written, outdoing the most extreme demands of Mahler, Strauss or Schoenberg. Inspired by Goethe's 'Faust' and the Gothic Age as a period of almost unlimited expansion of human knowledge, it incorporates a vast number of musical influences, from medieval plainsong to early 20th century techniques.
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.
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Works DetailsBrian, Havergal : Symphony no 1 in D minor for soloists, chorus, brass bands & orchestra, "The Gothic"
- Performers: Eva Jenisova (Voice); Vladimir Dolezal (Tenor); Peter Mikulás
- Conductor: Ondrej Lenárd
- Running Time: 1 min. 1 sec.
- Period Time: Post Romantic
- Form: Orchestral