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Brian: Symphony No. 3 CD

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Brian: Symphony No. 3 + Brian - Symphonies Nos 4 and 12 + Havergal Brian: Symphony No. 1 'The Gothic'
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Product details

  • Conductor: Lionel Friend
  • Composer: Havergal Brian
  • Audio CD (1 Jan. 2000)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Hyperion
  • ASIN: B000026CW7
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 70,346 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Product Description

Symphonie n°3 en ut dièse mineur / BBC Symphony Orchestra, dir. Lionel Friend

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Ernest J Coombes/ jayceeco@tinyworld,co.uk on 26 Aug. 2001
In the annals of twentieth century British music the case of William (Havergal) Brian must be unique. A composer,born in relative obscurity in Staffordshire,largely self-taught as a musician earning a meagre income as a music critic,a contemporary of Vaughan_Williams,Bantock and Bax and known and admired by all three,befriended by Beecham and Sir Henry Wood,died at Shoreham in 1972 at the age of 96 having completed 32 symphonies,(the majority written after the age of 70) four operas and numerous choral and orchestral works,yet whose identity is virtually unknown to the vast majority of concert goers in the country of his birth.
Brian's Symphony No 3 was begun in May 1931 and completed about a year later. Like the vast bulk of his output,he never heard it performed but considered it at the time to be his best music to date. It calls for large orchestral forces,(some 120 players were required for the recording under review) and runs to about 55 mins. It is cast in the usual four movements but there is nothing usual about the music which challenges the listener as well as the performers.
The over all style is Romantic and reminiscent of Bruckner and Mahler,more the latter than the former. There are too,moments where one is reminded of Richard Strauss,a composer much admired by Brian's friend Granville Bantock,and,in the final movement Elgar can be called to mind. However,there is a powerful and highly individual musical voice to be heard in this music and it deserves to be known to a wider public than at present.
The first movement opens with a most striking motif followed by a first subject in which two pianos play an important role. Brian originally conceived this work as a piano concerto and the instrument can be heard orchestrally in three of the four movements.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By John David Charles Hilton on 7 Aug. 2005
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Brian's third symphony is conceived on a grand scale 120 musicians playing for 55 minutes. It is very much in the late romantic epic mode, but with at times with a more rhythmic pulse than most works in the genre. Whilst it is immediately impressive, it takes a few plays to really sink in. It is a troubled but heroic symphony in the mold of, but not the same class as (but what is), Beethoven's Eroica Symphony.
As far as the performance goes, the BBC Symphony Orchestra responds well under Lionel Friend's direction and the architecture of the piece, as well as its atmosphere, holds up well. The digital recording, from 1988 has a full sound and a suitably warm feel. The sleeve notes are detailed and informative.
The four movements are, on this recording, split up into a total of 21 tracks. This would be useful if a detailed track listing was given, but there isn't one, so it is just irritating and a wasted opportunity.
It may not create the massive impression that his stupendous Gothic Symphony does (Seeing as that is officially the biggest symphony ever composed, it's not surprising) but it is a more accessible if less awe inspiring work.
This recording would make a worthwhile addition to any classical collection, particularly those with a late romantic bent...
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 26 Jan. 2002
This symphony was composed in the first third of the 20th Century and has many features of that era - a hugh orchestra (including two pianos), shades of Mahler-Bruckner-Strauss, an effort to encompass a changing world in music, pan-rhythmic, pan-chromatic, pan-everything.
This is perhaps not the most instantly likeable music available but it has the power and passion of an original and committed composer. On repeated listenings the piece becomes strangely compelling - you get drawn into the wayward madness of the thing.
No one has anything to fear from this music. I warmly recommend this CD to anyone interested in large-scale orchestral music, the British symphony, 'serious' classical music; in fact any category you choose!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4 reviews
26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Highly involving music - a must for any lover of large scale orchestral works 30 July 2005
By MartinP - Published on Amazon.com
Havergal Brian is one of those composers that far more people have heard of than have actually heard anything by him. His claim to fame is his gargantuan First Symphony, the Gothic, which got him into the Guiness book of Records as the composer of the largest symphony ever. But there is much more to Brian than megalomania - anyone who has ever in fact heard the Gothic can attest to that. Self-taught, he composed works of great individuality, that may be faintly reminiscent of others at times (Vaughan Williams, Elgar, R. Strauss, Mahler spring to mind), but in the end always retain their own unique voice.
The Third symphony (written in the 1930's) shares with its more notorious predecessor an atmosphere of wild invention and brilliant use of large orchestral forces. For though it is not nearly as enormous as the First, the Third is by no means a bagatelle: it involves quadruple woodwinds, an army of brass and percussion, two grand pianos and an organ, among others, and lasts a full hour. Yet it is also more tightly constructed and of a piece than the Gothic. Wayward, and even bizarre, as Brian's invention may seem at times, he knows where he is going, and in the 20 minute first movement in fact offers us a richly varied, but nonetheless classically constructed sonata form. The Scherzo is even more traditional - in form that is, for its music vacillates between a military band gone haywire and a dipsomaniac's version of a Bruckner Ländler. But no matter what he does - it is involving and fascinating throughout. This is one of those pieces that are such a sheer joy to listen to that an hour passes as if it were a mere few minutes. Extraordinary orchestral effects, such as the dialogue between two piano's and two timpanists in the first movement, vie for attention with passages of truly dumbfounding beauty, such as the coda of the second movement. Moments glittering with celesta, harps and pianos give way to quiet meditations, or even to a Vaughan-Williamslike lark ascending, that are in turn subsumed by dark, ominous marches.
This makes for extremely rewarding listening. Helpfully, the 4 movements are broken up into 21 tracks, and David Brown patiently guides you through them in his excellent booklet notes.
Finally, I find it impossible to fault the playing of the BBC SO, which is inspired to say the least; or the recording, which is rich, detailed and quite spectacular in climaxes (be it that the ad lib organ is not particularly audible). At the Helios price, this is extremely recommendable.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Utterly fascinating 13 Nov. 2010
By G.D. - Published on Amazon.com
Havergal Brian will probably continue to be most famous for his gargantuan first symphony, the Gothic, but the old adage that his remaining 31 symphonies are, to a greater or lesser extent, spinoffs of that seminal but flawed work is simply false. In fact, as this record shows, the Gothic might not even be his best work in the genre. The composer did not live to hear his third, and it was not performed until 1974, partially because of its length and the huge forces it requires (an absolute minimum of 70-80 players, including an organ (ad libitum but present in this recording though not always audible) and two concert pianists). It is a pity, for it is a remarkable and very satisfying work - a bit overblown, perhaps, but highly personal in style and full of inventive, imaginative gestures, themes and developments. But it is also a somewhat strange construction, partially perhaps because it was originally intended as a piano concerto - as work on it proceeded, however, it apparently became more and more clear to the composer that it looked more like a symphony with an obbligato piano part.

It is, obviously, a massive work, and while it might on first hearing strike one as rather bizarre structurally, Brian's argument is tauter than it might appear, and despite its many twists and turns he always knows exactly where he is taking the music. The huge first movement actually deploys standard sonata form, though Brian fills that framework with a welter of good and individual, though often surprising ideas. The slow movement is atmospheric and glittering, and the scherzo is jocular and sarcastic, twisted and spiteful and wonderfully delicate in turns. The finale cannot always avoid pomp and banality, but is still endlessly fascinating, swaggering on to a magnificently powerful culmination (the movements are divided into multiple tracks on the disc).

Part of the success of the work is due to the marvelous scoring; wonderfully variegated, with glittering and blinking textures and colors. Shimmering meditative movements and pugnaciously martial bombast coexists and yet, fascinatingly, manage to work together to create a rather convincing whole. The technical demands put on the performers are substantial, and I am happy to say that the BBC Symphony rises to the challenge very convincingly; under Lionel Friend's sympathetic and idiomatic guidance, we get all the colors, ravishing details and momentum we could have hoped for. The recording is very good as well, and if the balance is sometimes a little off, that is probably unavoidable given the richness and wide range of effects the composer asks for. A superb release, strongly recommended.
18 of 26 people found the following review helpful
interesting 25 Oct. 2003
By Sungu Okan - Published on Amazon.com
Havergal Brian is not too known a English composer, he was lived very long, and he written 32 symphonies.
His most knwon works are: Symphony No. 1 "Gothic", 3 and 4 "Das Siegeslied"...As you know, his "Gothic Symphony" to be recorded in Guiness Records (with the most large orchestra ever used in music)
And this symphony, also, written for large orchestra: quadruple winds, 8 horns, 4 trumpets, 4 trombones, 2 tubas, 2 set timpani, 3 side drums, cymbals, bass drum, gong, bells, 2 pianos, 2 harps, organ (may be ommited, but used in this CD), and about 60 strings...
Havergal Brian is a post-romantic composer, like another important English composer Robert Simpson. So, Brian wasn't used atonality or 12-tone system, like his contemporary Schoenberg, Stravinsky, Penderecki, Varese...But, still, he wasn't written tonal music at all. He move around tonality between atonality borders...Especially, he was liked that composing for large ensembles. After, Symphony No. 6 "Sinfonia tragica", he written not too long, usually mid-length works. (about 20 minutes etc.)
And this recording is a good choice to beginning his music and performers are very good.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A Glorious Melange 1 Nov. 2012
By J. R. Trtek - Published on Amazon.com
This symphony is almost like a musical metaphor for the story of the blind men and the elephant -- it lurches about in so many ways and in so many moods that it perhaps defies singular definition. The ride, however, is pretty fantastic. The beginning sounds to me like a grotesque tango for marble statues. Later, there are moments of stark vision, metaphorically as if single chords had been ripped from a Bruckner symphony and pasted onto paper to create a ransom note. And let's not forget the third movement Allegro, sounding all doughty and British, like a tipsy Vaughan Williams. While I do like certain moments in Havergal Brian's music, I have never cared much to listen to any complete work, except for this one. It still feels like a collage rather than a completely cohesive piece, but I love each jigsaw piece and the way they all fit together... Hmm, maybe the end of that sentence just contradicted its beginning. In any case, this is a gem -- rough and uncut, mind you, but a gem nonetheless.
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