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Havergal Brian: King of the Symphony

img  Tobias Fischer

Especially so, since Brian wasn't just about „big“. The first movement, an extract of which you can listen to in this clip, is full of haunting string washes, ethereal solos at the borders of sound and silence and goldenly  gleaming  brass chord progressions. This isn't Gothic, this is Star Wars, one listener commented – which is strangely true, but not in a derogatory sense. Certainly worthy of a rediscovery, especially since there are finally a couple of fine recordings available: The vintage 1966 version broadcast by the BBC (merely available as a bootleg for decades and re-released by Testament only last year), a Marco Polo interpretation as well as the budget edition by Naxos.

It would have given great pleasure to Brian to see his work slowly attaining more widespread attention. He, however, only got to see a tiny fraction of his oeuvre performed, some of it very late in his life. Even today, as „the official Brian Havergal“ website reports, „the Australian premiere of Brian’s vast Gothic symphony, scheduled to take place in December 2010, is encountering an unexpected funding shortfall of £15,000“, putting the first performance of the symphony in thirty years in danger – showing once again that it's not easy to be the king of maximalists.



Homepage: Havergal Brian at Naxos Records

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