HAVERGAL BRIAN (1876-1972): The Tigers.

Catalogue Number: 03Q009

Label: Testament

Reference: SBT3 1496

Format: CD

Price: $59.98

Description: This is the superbly produced BBC studio recording - and only performance to date - of Brian's extravagant and deliriously impractical comic opera, written by way of relief from the horrors of WWI, lost, and rediscovered after the composer's death. Less a narrative than a series of tableaux based around the exploits of a bumblingly-led regiment (with scenes involving fairground people, high society people, policemen - and dancing gargoyles!), the piece requires 44 soloists, a chorus and a huge orchestra. The producer of the broadcast production summed it up as being 'as though some latter-day Hieronymus Bosch' had put together a new Garden of Earthly Delights, full of surreal humor and grotesquerie. Contemporary listeners will relate it to Monty Python or the BBC TV series 'Dad's Army' (wrong war, similar humor). The music is superb, in Brian's expansive, early style, with European romanticism rubbing shoulders with the British brass band tradition and music-hall popular song; not as complex as what was soon to follow, but amazingly assured in its treatment of large forces and ambitious scale, nonetheless. The arrival of the man on the elephant (better not to ask; it's not a vital plot point - but neither is anything else) occurs to the accompaniment of music of imposing and cataclysmic majesty, which sums up one of the work's most bewildering and appealing aspects; it's like a three-hour English music-hall sketch in the style of the Gothic Symphony. Great stuff! 3 CDs. Libretto included. 20 solo singers (you'll recognize some of them like Paul Crook, Teresa Cahill and Alan Opie), BBC Singers, BBC Symphony Orchestra; Lionel Friend (rec. Jan. 3-8, 1983).


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