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Havergal Brian Symphonies 22-24


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Author Topic: Havergal Brian Symphonies 22-24  (Read 2756 times)
Dundonnell
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« Reply #15 on: March 31, 2013, 03:10:27 pm »

I don't remember your comparison of Malcolm's writing style with that of Rider Haggard and I cannot imagine the "mixed response" Grin

Rider Haggard is one of my favourite authors. I have all of his 56 novels-many collected in all manner of strange second-hand bookshops all over Britain.

Malcolm's vivid and wonderfully evocative writing style has been a characteristic since he was a teenager when he wrote an unfinished novel about a certain, pretty well unknown Roman Emperor. While he was at Cambridge studying first English and then Music he wrote me a lengthy letter every week full of descriptions of his musical discoveries
and experiences. I still have the "MacDonald Letters" carefully stored Smiley My own copies of the three volumes on the symphonies were kindly signed and sent to me by the author Smiley
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Gauk
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« Reply #16 on: March 31, 2013, 09:25:47 pm »

I ordered mine via Amazon UK not very long ago (less than a year), so you will probably be able to track copies down if you hunt around a bit and are prepared to pay a bit, as I was

Last I looked, about 100 per volume.
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jimfin
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« Reply #17 on: April 01, 2013, 07:38:39 am »

Oh dear, I didn't pay quite that much, and I seem to remember that only one of the volumes was on the pricy side. I guess I was lucky.
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cilgwyn
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« Reply #18 on: April 01, 2013, 01:22:04 pm »

Oh dear, I didn't pay quite that much, and I seem to remember that only one of the volumes was on the pricy side. I guess I was lucky.
I bet you could have picked up one of those volumes in a secondhand bookshop,a couple of years ago,for next to nothing! Trouble is all the nice old fasioned bookshops where I live have been killed off by chains & (musn't be a hypocrite,I use it!) the internet! The bargains I used to find!! Sad
For anyone who finds HB's symphonies,especially the later ones,a bit of a tough nut,those books are a bit of a must! The good news is,once you 'crack' the later ones,they are actually,imho,even more absorbing (in many ways) than the earlier ones. I used to feel like Kyjo! Oh no! Why didn't he compose more symphonies like the Gothic (etc)! Sad Now,I'm actually glad he didn't. If you look at the progress of the symphonies,you can see the way they evolve towards the 'transitional' Seventh,which has the expansiveness of the earlier large scale works & the hallmarks of the later symphonies. After that the symphonies get more concise & Brian seems to abandon traditional symphonic argument in favour of allusion. Wishing Brian had stuck to his earlier expansiveness is a bit like wishing Sibelius had carried on composing in the vein of his First or second symphonies (actually,sometimes I DO wish that! Grin) & it would have provided more fuel for Brian's critics,who seem to want to make out that he was some kind of megalomaniac,eccentric!   At any rate,for those who wish to persevere with Brian's later efforts,Malcolm MacDonald's books are a bit like setting out in unfamiliar territory with a good ordnance survey map. They really DO help! My advice,just keep on looking. Anyone who asks 100 deserves no response,unless the books are signed by Malcolm MacDonald himself!!! And just imagine paying all that & finding out the books are going to be republished (As they say in the soaps,"Noooooooooooooo!!!! Huh Sad ) No sign of that happening yet,though?! Sad
[Edited,'cos I got a bit off topic!! Roll Eyes Grin]




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Gauk
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« Reply #19 on: April 01, 2013, 03:26:36 pm »

It already is a HB thread ...

I certainly came to the more compact symphonies first; I think the first one I heard was No 10. The very early LP issues with amateur orchestras. And certainly, it did seem a bit baffling and unexpected, but I was interested enough to persevere. I don't think I heard the Gothic for a long while after.
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jimfin
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« Reply #20 on: April 01, 2013, 03:43:09 pm »

I started with the medium ones, 8&9 in the Grove recordings (at that time, only those, plus 6 and 16 were available in professional recordings, to my knowledge). I found the amateur recordings of 10 and 21 difficult to enjoy It's only been recently that I've got more into the shorter symphonies, and, as was said, MM's guide is a must for this. Whereas the Gothic I can just listen to as it is.
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cilgwyn
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« Reply #21 on: April 02, 2013, 03:19:50 pm »

Yes,of course it's a HB thread,albeit relating to the new Naxos cd! Smiley This comes of popping in through the 'New posts' link,at the bottom! Roll Eyes Grin
My first encounter was via the Schmidt Gothic. I remember seeing a newspaper article in 'The Times';'Brian's Gothic mountain looms (again) or something & a photo of him. It grabbed my attention & I was so intrigued I was ready for the broadast with my hi-tech set up. A cassette recorder,with one of those piano keyboards,positioned in front of the radio! Hoping no one would slam a door or feed the cats (Siamese ones with those wierd,yowling meows!) Luckily,I got the first three orchestral movements;but something happened to the tape recording of the choral movements & for year or two my experience of the 'Gothic' ended just before that strange storm! Sad
My second Brian experience was via the old Unicorn release of 10 & 21. I enjoyed both of them. I must have nearly worn them out! After that,it was 8 & 9,the Mackerras Seventh,the Lyrita cd & the wonderful Forlane recordings of the Variations & Symphonic Dances from 'The Tigers'. A Hull Youth SO performance also gave me a rather strange,off key,introduction to Brian's earliest efforts. Luckily,I had the Lp of 'In Memoriam',which was fairly straightforward for youths of their capability & the 'Festal Dance',which included the wacky piano part & is still more fun than the rather sterile,humourless,Marco Polo effort & probably the only Hull Youth SO recording I would still play! I also had the Aries Lp of Brian's third,which I actually disappointed me. The third is now my favourite Brian Symphony. I also had the Lp of the songs,which was another one that made endless returns to my record turntable. Finally,someone posted me a big pile of D90 cassettes of all the off air broadcasts. Practically everything! A treasure trove!
As to the later symphonies;they remained a cryptic,rather frustrating puzzle for years. Years later,thanks to Johan's enthusiasm,at the GMG (he also 'converted' me to Delius!!) and recent technology,I was able to make cdrs of all the symphonies in order & suddenly they 'clicked'! The strange thing is how 'easy to follow (relatively speaking!) & enjoyable they actually are,once you've finally 'cracked' them! Wonderful! Smiley
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cilgwyn
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« Reply #22 on: April 03, 2013, 12:31:18 pm »

I started with the medium ones, 8&9 in the Grove recordings (at that time, only those, plus 6 and 16 were available in professional recordings, to my knowledge). I found the amateur recordings of 10 and 21 difficult to enjoy It's only been recently that I've got more into the shorter symphonies, and, as was said, MM's guide is a must for this. Whereas the Gothic I can just listen to as it is.
Interesting to note the majority of posters,at the GMG Havergal Brian,seem to prefer the old Unicorn LSSO recording of the tenth to the recent Dutton recording. One of the original LSSO musicians posts there,but they're not just being polite! The LSSO performance just has more atmosphere and 'bite',particularly in that curious storm sequencing. Unlike jimfin,I found the symphony quite enthralling & played my Lp over & over again! However,like jimfin,apart from No's 16 & 21,the later symphonies were a bit of a 'closed book' to me. In fact,I remember thinking they all sounded the same & that maybe,Brian had just gone on (like the old Hovhaness accusation) composing the same symphony,over & over again! Now of course,I'm a complete convert! But as I pointed out,in an earlier post,this is only due to my painstakingly 'burning' all the symphonies onto cd,and listening to them,in order. Grouping symphonies with similar characteristics,also helped. I was amazed at the way they suddenly seemed to 'open up',after years of trying! The trouble with hearing the later symphonies via cds,is that the listener is presented with only one (or maybe,two) isolated examples. Allot of Brian's symphonies have similar characteristics & seem to evolve,almost like organisms out of their predecessors (hope that doesn't get me in 'pseuds corner!). Hearing,them in order,particularly the later more compressed ones,and being able to compare themes & motifs to those in their immeadiate neighbours,really does help! Which is why having Symphonies 22-24,in sequence should be so rewarding,particularly to the less seasoned Brian navigator! In contrast,the Symphonies on the old Unicorn LSSO have a gap of nine years between them,and in terms of structure,style & atmosphere,have very little in common. It doesn't help! Sad Grin
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jimfin
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« Reply #23 on: April 03, 2013, 12:50:44 pm »

I'm quite ready to believe that the reason I didn't 'get' no. 10 under the old recording is just that I was too young. Nowadays I am very fond of no. 21 from the same record. But I do think the Dutton recordings of any Brian are of superb quality and hope for more! Yes, some Brian symphonies seem to gestate inside one for years and then suddenly open up and reveal themselves. He may not be everyone's taste, but for those who love him, I don't think there's a composer who is anything like him.
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cilgwyn
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« Reply #24 on: April 03, 2013, 04:49:53 pm »

The Dutton recordings are marvellous,although there was some criticism of the recording quality of the Violin Concerto,on the GMG HB thread (something to do with the balance accorded to the solo instrument,not the playing!). At any rate,it sounded good to me!
I think everyone was very grateful for the wonderful recordings. Having said that,there does seem to be a consensus of opinion that the LSSO performance of the tenth was superior;which is marvellous really,considering they were school children & this was their first encounter with HB's music. That's not to say that there was anything wrong with Brabbin's interpretation,just a feeling that there was more atmosphere & urgency to the LSSO reading,particularly in the 'storm' sequence (where's MM's book,when I need it?!!).Having said that,it's just a different interpretation & that's what makes it so fascinating. The Dutton performance also has the advantage of digital recording technology. Of course,there are some  people who may prefer Brabbin's approach,and why not?!! Smiley
Stanley Pope's 1958 broadcast,of the tenth,with the Philharmonia also came up very well in GMG forum comparisons. There is a rough hewn,pioneering zeal to the performance,which makes it allot more than just an interesting historic artifact. It was also the premiere performance of the work (as you probably know and,for anyone who doesn't know,it can be downloaded for free at the new,splendidly revamped,Havergal Brian Society website! (Although,it might be here,for all I know?!).
Hopefully,there will be more HB from Dutton. Personally,I would love recordings of No 14 & the 'Wine of Summer';although the success of that will rely heavily on the choice of soloist. After his cd of Brian's wonderful songs,I DO hope it's not going to be Mark Stone!! Sad Also, new recordings of the Second & third Symphonies would be very welcome. Hopefully,with Martyn Brabbins at the helm. Mind you,I AM jumping the gun a bit here! Grin
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Dundonnell
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« Reply #25 on: April 04, 2013, 12:22:52 am »

Hah Smiley

Wait........and watch Grin
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savoir_faire
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« Reply #26 on: April 05, 2013, 08:38:43 am »

That was a very cryptic comment Dundonnell  Roll Eyes Huh Roll Eyes do you know something we don't? I do hope more HB Symphonies are on their way!! Grin
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Dundonnell
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« Reply #27 on: April 05, 2013, 11:40:05 am »

Maybe I do Grin
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cilgwyn
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« Reply #28 on: April 05, 2013, 12:12:26 pm »

Havergal Brian: I'd be amazed if any aren't on the way!
Daniel Jones   : I'd be amazed if any are on the way! Sad Grin

Surely,No 5 must be a bit of a priority,now! The trouble is,unlike any of the other symphonies,the 'Wine of Summer' really does depend on an exceptionally fine singer & Brian Rayner Cook is just so good in this music. He is so immediately identifiable with the music,in fact in some ways,he is the music! While I'm certainly open to new interpretations,I have to say that,I really don't find much to excite me in the current generation of singers,who tend to be technically proficient,but all much of a muchness,as far as I'm concerned. I DO fear that after a couple of spins on my cd player,my enthusiasm for the new recording will diminish & it will be back to dear old Brian Rayner Cook!
My apologies for being such a curmudgeon & I hope they do bring out a recording of this wonderful symphony,which thoroughly deserves wider dissemination..........I'm just a bit dubious though! Personally,my ideal would be a commercial cd release of the Brian Rayner Cook performance.....and,a Dutton recording!! Grin But please,not Mark Stone! Not after what he did to those wonderful songs (nice booklet with the cd,though! Grin ). And not unless he's been on a how to sing English song,course. Ouch! Whatever happened to sweetness of tone?! Roll Eyes Sad


 

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Dundonnell
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« Reply #29 on: April 05, 2013, 02:14:28 pm »

Who knows anything for sure Huh Grin

Plans within plans...discussions...hopes.. .....

IF...and it is always an if...then the only clue I might offer would be the number 24.
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