Friday, 31 December 2010

Havergal Brian: Notes and News

The last post of the year!!! However, 2010 has been a great year for Havergal Brian and 2011 promises to be even better! Of greatest significance was a performance of the massive Gothic Symphony in Brisbane, Australia on December 22. I have not yet read any reviews of this, but am sure that it will have been a huge success. It was two years in planning, involved some 300 singers and 180 musicians. It is the first performance in over 30 years. The executive producer of the symphony, Gary Thorpe has admitted that "The logistics are a nightmare . . . the composer declared the work was cursed after he saw repeated attempts to mount it fail by the likes of Eugene Goossens and Leonard Bernstein."
Interestingly, in 1974, the Gothic Symphony was achieved note in the Guinness Book of World Records as “the largest, longest and most technically difficult symphony ever composed”
There is a persistent rumour circulating that the Gothic will be played at the 2011 Proms on July 17 with BBC National Orchestra of Wales, conducted by Martyn Brabbins. However, there does seem to be some doubt over this exciting news – apparently according to MusicWeb International, Roger Wright at the BBC “refuses to confirm or deny as all information is embargoed until April” So it is a matter of keeping fingers crossed.

Earlier this year, Toccata Press published the long-awaited second volume of Havergal Brian’s writings. In these selections from his journalism, the Brian “directs his enquiring mind at the music being composed in France, Germany, Italy and elsewhere while he and his British contemporaries were fighting to establish new music at home.” It is a worthy successor to the earlier volume, published as far back as 1986 where Brian's writings about British music and composers were presented.

Naxos has continued to republish Havergal Brian’s Symphonies which were originally released on Marco Polo. These include numbers 11, 15, 17 & 32 along with his tone poem In Memoriam and Festal Dance. Furthermore, Testament has issued the Boult/BBC Symphony Orchestra recording of the Gothic Symphony made on 30 October 1966 in the presence of the composer. And finally Dutton Epoch has released some studio broadcasts of Brian’s Dr. Merryheart Overture, the Symphony No. 9 and No. 11.
I understand that there are a number of other recordings that are ‘in the can’ as it were for release during 2011. More about that in due course.
Have a great Hogmanay!!


Anonymous said...

The better review is here:

Anonymous said...

The better review is here