Havergal Brian (1876–1972) is renowned as the composer of 32 powerful symphonies (then the largest symphonic cycle since Haydn), 21 of them composed after his 80th birthday; his First Symphony, The Gothic, is reputed to be the largest ever composed. But in the first part of his career Brian was also active on a smaller scale, his songs attracting the advocacy of singers as prominent as John McCormack and John Coates. The range of emotion in these songs is nonetheless vast, from folky innocence via Shakespearean irony to deep tragedy. Brian Rayner Cook’s performances can be taken as authoritative: he studied the songs with the composer. The CD is completed by the Legend for violin and piano, Brian’s only surviving piece of chamber music.
Brian Rayner Cook, baritone Roger Vignoles, piano Stephen Levine, violin Peter Lawson, piano
Catalogue No: TOCC0005EAN/UPC: 5060113440051Release Date: 04.03.2005Composer: Havergal Brian Artists: Brian Rayner Cook, Peter Lawson, Roger Vignoles, Stephen Levine
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Rob Barnett :
The sound in the songs is big and unapologetic.…The notes are exemplary as you would expect from one of the two leading Brian scholars, Malcolm Macdonald.…The songs are all well-rounded, well recorded and project a grand nobility aided invaluably by Brian Rayner Cook’s distinctive baritone and the sensitive and, when called for, larger than life pianism of Roger Vignoles. This disc will be widely welcomed. The release on CD of these outstanding performances of intriguing and impressive music should find ready takers in the burgeoning market for British song and for the music of Havergal Brian.” —Rob Barnett, MusicWeb International
Godfrey Berry :
“… the sound is commendably full, clear and lifelike. The piano tone, often a weakness in song records, is particularly well reproduced.” —Godfrey Berry, Havergal Brian Society
Guy Rickards :
“Approximately one quarter of Havergal Brian’s song output features on this superbly remastered issue, sung vividly in the Wigmore Hall by Brian Rayner Cook, alive to all the moods and colours of this unfamiliar repertoire, accompanied to perfection by Roger Vignoles. … The recordings still sound fresh and with the bonus of Stephen Levine and Peter Lawson’s moving rendition of Brian’s sole extant piece of chamber music, Legend … this disc is warmly recommended.” —Guy Rickards, Gramophone
BBC Music Magazine :
“This collection of songs plus one work for violin and piano from Havergal Brian’s early period show an original mind at work. Superior and idiomatic performances, clear sound.” —BBC Music Magazine
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