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Havergal Brian was never a conventional composer, but the three later works on this disc rank among his most unconventional approaches to the symphonic form.
The highly virtuosic Doctor Merryheart portrays an imaginary astronomer’s musical obsessions. The artless spontaneity of Symphony No. 11, whose Adagio is one of Brian’s most profound inspirations, and the extrovert character of Symphony No. 15, are firmly grounded in Brian’s resourceful technical mastery.
The martial vigour of the early overture For Valour drew inspiration from the Walt Whitman poem Drum Taps (also used by Vaughan Williams in Dona nobis pacem, Naxos 8572424).
Havergal Brian: For Valour, Op. 7
Marcarto e pomposo, sempre pesante
Havergal Brian: Doctor Merryheart
Variation 1: Whimsies and Sunshadows (Grillen und Sonnenschatten)
Variation 2: Smiles and Storms (Lacheln und Sturme)
Variation 3: Dreams: Asleep in the Arms of Venus (Traume: Schlummernd in den Armen der Venus)
Variation 4: Merryheart as a chivalrous knight chases Bluebeard (Als ritterlicher Kampe verfolgt Merryheart den Blaubart)
Variation 5: Merryheart fights a dragon (Merryheart kampft mit dem Drache)
Variation 6: Merryheart leads a procession of heroes (Merryheart fuhrt einem Zug Helden)
Variation 7: Merryheart awakes (Merryheart ist wash)