HAVERGAL BRIAN (1876-1972): Burlesque Variations on an Original Theme, English Suite No. 2 "Rustic Scenes", Elegy, Legend: Ave atque Vale.
Catalogue Number: 05M002
Label: Toccata Classics
Reference: TOCC 0110
Description: While we wait for the new symphonies and concerto recorded on Dutton Epoch (next month, we hope!), here's this new orchestral offering from Toccata Classics. The 1903 Burlesque Variations were Brian's answer to his friend Elgar's rather famous set of variations which came out only four years previous and their 25-minute span contains already much that would mark the composer's mature style. The English Suite dates from 1953 and there are elements of folksong, scene-painting and burlesque character pieces in its four movements but they develop in unpredictable ways authentic to Brian; these works have had only amateur recordings prior to this. The other two works are World Premiere Recordings: 1954's Elegy is an 11-and-a-half minute piece, originally called A Song of Sorrow, which Brian thought of as a "symphony without a number", built on major-minor shifts familiar from most of his works, with elements of canonic invention and jagged development, while the Legend is the next-to-last work he wrote (1968). Sardonic, jovial, moving and disturbing in turn, it's a tightly packed seven minutes of mockery and elegy which is a fitting almost-swan-song for the 92-year-old composer. BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra; Garry Walker.