BBC National Orchestra of Wales, BBC Concert Orchestra, soloists, choirs/ Brabbins(Hyperion)
Havergal Brian (1876-1972) wrote 32 symphonies, 14 of them in his 80s, seven in his 90s, most of them never played. The monster "Gothic" lasts 106 minutes, employs two orchestras, four brass bands, four soloists, an organist and in this performance nine choirs, amounting to around 600 voices. This recording comes from the work's first, thrilling and bizarre BBC Proms performance in July. Few regard it as a masterpiece, and hearing it for the first time on CD it is undeniably episodic and, yes, long. Yet the enormous, almost mystical sound of the chorus, the intriguing vocal colours, wacky instrumentation and sheer vastness of the enterprise give it an odd cult appeal: truly epic.
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