Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


Some items
to consider

Free classical music concerts by Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra.


Moravec - Twelfth Night Recital
15%off £17.21 (until Dec 7)

Katerina Englichová - harp
15%0ff £10.83 (until Dec 7)

  • Today's leading<br>clarinet-piano duo
  • Stellar debut<br>piano recital
  • Clarinet transcriptions Jonathan Cohler
  • Jonathan Cohler & Claremont Trio
  • French clarinet masterpieces
  • Today's leading<br>clarinet-piano duo

Sibelius Symphonies Maazel
4CDs + Blu-ray audio
Special Price £36.75

RVW A Sea Symphony - Elder

Shostakovich Symphony 10 Nelsons

Verdi Requiem

Dvorak Opera Premiere

Grieg, Mendelssohn sonatas




Would you like a hyperlinked weekly summary of the CDs we have reviewed?

Click for further details

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
Classical Editor
Rob Barnett
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
   Stan Metzger
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


alternatively AmazonUK   AmazonUS



Havergal BRIAN (1876-1972)
Symphony No. 2 in E minor (1930-31) [53:28]
Festival Fanfare (1967) [1:44]

Moscow Symphony Orchestra/Tony Rowe
rec. Mosfilm Studio, Moscow, May 1996. DDD

Booklet notes in English
NAXOS 8.570506 [55:12]


With the gradual reissue of the original Marco Polo releases of Havergal Brianís symphonies on the bargain-priced Naxos label, it is to be hoped that more people will explore the music of this fascinating but still largely under-appreciated maverick English composer. The original Marco Polo CDs were tantalisingly labelled the Brian Cycle but only 11 of the canon of 32 have appeared to date, leaving many still unrecorded. One can only hope that more recordings are lurking in the Naxos archives awaiting release.


The symphony presented here was actually Brianís third. The mighty Gothic Symphony, released on Marco Polo (8.223280/81) and more recently on Naxos (8.557418/19) was originally his second but the work Brian wrote as his First Symphony, A Fantastic Symphony, he partly discarded. The Fantastic Symphonyís first and last movements were rescued as separate works and are also available in the Marco Polo series Ė the Fantastic Variations on 8.223731 with symphonies 20 and 25, and the Festal Dance on 8.223481 with symphonies 17 and 32.


The Second Symphony was written in 1930-31 and is cast in a traditional four-movement design, albeit with the movements playing without a break. The orchestral forces required, by normal standards are vast (16 horns are asked for) but, in comparison with the gargantuan orchestra demanded in the Gothic Symphony, somewhat modest. Always attracted to German literature, Brian took Goetheís drama GŲtz von Berlichingen as his initial inspiration, although he denied any specific programme to the symphony.


The first movement is one of those rugged symphonic movements cast in granite that listeners familiar with Brianís work will recognise. The slow movement is the least successful for me. It seems a little too loosely put together and I found it difficult giving it my full attention on repeated listenings. The scherzo is altogether more successful, with antiphonal horns, drum-like ostinati and a sense of Brucknerian excitement. The finale is a funeral march-cum-rondo and, at nearly 20 minutes duration, the emotional heart of the symphony.


The disc opens with the only work Brian wrote for brass alone: the very short Festival Fanfare, dated Christmas 1967 and written at the suggestion of an American admirer. The Fanfare was also first performed in the United States Ė in Urbana, Illinois - in May 1972. It is an attractive but unremarkable piece but shows the affinity to orchestral brass that Brian had displayed throughout his long composing career.


While the brass-only Fanfare received an excellent performance, Iím afraid that of the symphony leaves a great deal to be desired. While other CDs in the Brian series were made in Bratislava, Dublin, Glasgow and Kiev, this is the only one (so far) from the Moscow Symphony Orchestra. This orchestra was only founded in 1989 and so was seven years old at the time of this recording, trying to develop at a time when Russia was losing many of its best musicians to more secure and better paid jobs in the West following the dismantling of the Soviet Union. The MSO has never, to my ears, achieved the standards of its more senior counterparts in Russia and seems much more at home in the many excellent film music recordings that have appeared on Marco Polo and Naxos than it does in this symphony. The main problem is that the upper strings just donít seem to have the notes under their fingers, with sometimes disastrous results for ensemble and tuning. In addition, the very studio-bound sound produced in the Mosfilm recording venue helps matters not at all, being rather dry and unforgiving, with little ambience around the sound. However, with no alternative recordings available, this disc serves to show what a unique force Havergal Brian was in British music and connoisseurs of off-the-beaten-track music from England will find much to enthral them here.


Derek Warby


see also Review by Colin Clarke





Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on

Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical


Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Cameo Classics
Prima voce
Red Priest
Toccata Classics

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
Classical Editor
Rob Barnett
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
   Stan Metzger
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Return to Review Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.