Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Gothic Arrives

Okay, so I was not in London on Sunday. But the reviews and comments on Havergal Brian's gigantic Symphony No. 1 are out there on the net, and I have been reading with interest and amusement. Start with Kenneth Woods, who has fascinating comments and links to other commentators and reviewers.

Then go to the BBC Proms web site and actually listen to the thing.


Brian said...

I once heard Esa-Pekka Salonen tell an amusing anecdote about being aggressively lobbied by a fan to program the Gothic Symphony in L.A.

He was bemused and non-plused by the idea andpresented the whole situation as a farce.

For better or worse, this is all I've known about the work since first hearing about it.

Henry Holland said...

I listened to the last hour or so on Sunday and it was quite the experience. Brian was not a trained composer by any stretch and that's both good and bad. Knowing the Darmstadt style so well, the abrupt changes of mood and style didn't faze me, but it got frustrating to hear him latch on to a good idea and then toss it aside for a new, less interesting one.

Martyn Brabbins deserves a knighthood for pulling it all together, I've been a fan of his since I heard his recordings of Korngold's Die Kathrin and Birtwistle's incredible The Second Mrs. Kong. Now *that* is versatility.

I'd love to hear Brian's opera The Tigers, which after some Googling, seems to last 3 hours (!!) and was actually done in the studio for BBC and broadcast on Radio 3 in 1983. Ah, another rarity to search the Internet for!

Thanks for the link to Kenneth Wood's site > all the links there.

Lisa Hirsch said...

You're welcome, Harry!

I wish I'd been there, because this really might have been a once-in-a-lifetime chance to hear the Gothic live. The reviews make it sound like a complete mess. Listening to it, not quite as messy as I'd feared, with many effective sections.

What a job for all of the musicians, to learn this huge piece that they'll probably never play again!