CHARLES O'BRIEN (1882-1968): Orchestral Works, Vol. 1 - Symphony in F Minor, Op. 23, Ellengowan: Concert Overture, Op. 12.
Catalogue Number: 06Q001
Label: Toccata Classics
Reference: TOCC 0262
Description: This label offered a disc of this Edinburgh composer's piano music last October but this, the first of three orchestral discs, was a complete surprise. O'Brien's only symphony is a 45-minute piece in four movements from 1922 that was only ever performed twice (in 1929 and 1934). This is a full-scale Romantic score in the tradition of Mendelssohn and Brahms. The first movement is particularly enthralling and the menuetto and slow movement are calm, opposite poles of its thrusting vigor which returns in the finale. The earlier Ellangowan (1912) is no slip of an overture either - it's almost 18 minutes long and, inspired by Walter Scott's "Guy Mannering" (although it's not programmatic), it's a direct descendant of Mendelssohn's Hebrides although, as the conductor puts it in his notes, O'Brien has a much better Scottish accent. There are even echoes of Elgar (and some of the latter's late, great works had not been written yet when O'Brien was working on this overture). Liepaja Symphony Orchestra; Paul Mann.