One of the most grown-up review sites around

2020
54,928 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here

     
  
 

 

International mailing


 
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             


CD REVIEW

Some items
to consider

 

paid for
advertisements



TROUBADISC

100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas


FOGHORN Classics


Mozart Brahms
Clarinet Quintets


New Releases

Naxos Classical


Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10

 


Obtain 10% discount

 


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
   
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Postmaster
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

 

Discs for review may be sent to:
Jonathan Woolf
76 Lushes Road
Loughton
Essex IG10 3QB
United Kingdom
Ph. 020 8418 0616
jonathan_woolf@yahoo.co.uk


 


alternatively AmazonUK  

Havergal BRIAN (1876-1972)
Symphony No. 2 in E minor (1930-31) [53:28]
Festival Fanfare (1967) [1:44]
Moscow Symphony Orchestra/Tony Rowe. DDD
rec. Mosfilm Studio, Moscow, May 1996
NAXOS 8.570506 [55:12]



After welcoming Brian's Fourth Symphony recently (8.570308 - see review), it is a pleasure to report on a further reissue of the music of this important composer. Originally on Marco Polo 8.223790, this Second Symphony becomes a must-buy at the cheaper price tag.
 
We begin, though, with the 1967 Festival Fanfare, Brian’s one brass-only work. It is one of the last works we know of by the composer. Its argument is terse but confident. The performance here mirrors this confidence.
 
The earlier Second Symphony (1930/31) is scored for typically huge orchestra, including two pianos, three sets of timpani, organ and 16 horns - although strangely only eight are used in the present recording. Although in four movements, Naxos has allocated several track points to each movement, a real help when interacting with Malcom MacDonald's superb notes.
 
Inspired by Goethe, specifically the early drama, Götz von Berlichingen, each movement allegedly concerns a specific character trait of Götz: the first, resolution; the second, domestic piety; the third, battle; the fourth, death. Textures are often complex but never blurred.
 
Some of the playing leaves a little to be desired, but Brian's demands are harsh, after all. The mysterious foreboding of the symphony’s opening leads to some strained playing from the strings  but there is no denying that the atmosphere is there. There are contrasts in this first movement, but they have to be heard in context; thus the second subject, whilst suave and delicate, never really gives any true balm or hope. Brian’s inspiration takes flight in the Andante sostenuto e molto espressivo second movement, where there is a lovely use of solo violin, although the soloist seems rather recessed in the overall sound picture.
 
By far the briefest movement, the Scherzo only lasts around six minutes. The horns come into their own here, with antiphonal calls chasing each other over string poundings. MacDonald is absolutely correct to identify the Wagnerian elements in the finale: “Siegfried’s Funeral March” from Götterdämmerung. Brian plans the music so it moves towards a massive climax that is cruelly cut short, to be followed by some stunningly beautiful harmonies in the lower strings. The haunting end leaves one in a sort of stunned reverie.
 
I keep on asking myself is there no end to Brian's invention? We are privileged to be able to hear these scores at all, and it is good that the Moscow Orchestra gives its all for the Brianesque cause. We need much more of the same ...
 
Colin Clarke

British composers on Naxos page
 



 


Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and keep us afloat

 

 

Recordings of the Month

May


Shostakovich
Piano Concertos and Trio


Devos: English Song Cycles


Christian Grøvlen: Eventyr

April


The Well-Tempered Consort


The Rachmaninov Collection


Symphonies 4 & 6

 

March


piano music Vol 4


Charpentier


Songs of Love and Sorrow


Thomas Agerfeldt OLESEN
Cello Concerto


The female in Music

 

February

 

 

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.