Havergal Brian: The First Commercial Recordings


HTGCD256/7 – 5060332660384

An important 2 CD release of the very first commercial recordings of the music of Havergal Brian, made for Columbia and Unicorn in the 1970s. The performances, given by the Leicestershire Schools Symphony Orchestra, have been re-mastered and feature the only available recording of the composer’s 21st Symphony.


CD 1

  1. Havergal Brian Symphony No.10 (1954)

    Leicestershire Schools Symphony Orchestra, James Loughran (conductor)

    Havergal Brian Symphony No.21 (1962)

  2. Adagio – Allegro e con anima
  3. Adagio cantabile e sostenuto
  4. Vivace
  5. Allegro con fuoco
    Leicestershire Schools Symphony Orchestra, Eric Pinkett

CD 2

  1. Symphony No. 22 ‘Symphonia Brevis’ (1964-5)

    Leicestershire Schools Symphony Orchestra, Laszlo Heltay (conductor)

  2. Psalm 23 (1901)

    Leicestershire Schools Symphony Orchestra, Laszlo Heltay (conductor), Paul Taylor (tenor), Brighton Festival Chorus

    English Suite No. 5 ‘Rustic Scenes’ (1953) 

  3. Trotting to Market
  4. Reverie
  5. The Restless Stream
  6. Village Revels
    Leicestershire Schools Symphony Orchestra, Eric Pinkett (conductor)


  1. admin

    ‘This Heritage release, due to be launched in September, restores to the catalogue the first commercial recordings ever made of Havergal Brian’s music. For its historic significance alone this 2 CD set deserves a warm welcome. Symphonies 10 and 21 were recorded by Unicorn in 1972 and the coupling was available on vinyl (RHS313) and then briefly on a rather dry sounding CD reissue (UKCD2027) some years later. The works on the second CD were recorded by CBS in 1974 but have not been reissued since the original LP release in 1975 (CBS Classics 61612). The Heritage audio engineers have used the original masters as a starting point to produce this reissue.
    In summary, this set could convert some new listeners to Brian’s music. The playing is never less than good and it is often brilliant. This should be in the collection of anyone even remotely interested in British music. Bravo.’

    MusicWeb International

  2. admin

    10th Symphony – ‘Loughran steers a secure course through this often disquieting score, less inevitable in its progress than Martyn Brabbins’s recent account if plumbing greater depths in those passages where activity ceases and time literally seems to stand still.’

    21st Symphony – ‘Eric Pinkett (the LSSO’s music advisor for 28 years until 1976) has its measure – whether in the bracing energy of its opening Allegro, the plaintive eloquence of its Adagio, a scherzo whose lithe energy is complemented by the almost pointillist delicacy of its trio, then a finale whose ingenious sonata-variation format brings the work to a typically recalcitrant close.’

    Psalm 23 – ‘With the choral singing unwavering in its commitment (as is Paul Taylor in his eloquent tenor solo) and the LSSO coping ably with exacting contrapuntal writing, this is decidedly superior to Douglas Bostock’s more polished yet relatively uninvolving reading.’

    ‘Remastering on both discs has brought added depth and clarity to what (courtesy of Leicester’s De Montfort Hall) was originally spacious if at times subfusc sound, and Malcolm MacDonald contributes exemplary annotations (he now seems rather more positive towards Symphony No. 21).’

    International Record Review March 2014

  3. admin

    ‘The reissue is a gem, having gone back to the original master tapes for the transfers, expertly undertaken by Heritage. The LSSO’s playing is never less than good, and sometimes inspired’
    Havergal Brian Society Newsletter 2014

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