“Havergal Brian's Sixth and Sixteenth Symphonies were recorded in April 1973. The Sixth (1948), incorporating material from an abandoned opera on Synge's Deirdre of the Sorrows, is highly illustrative with atmospheric orchestration, a gorgeous, full-blooded romantic melody in the slow central section and a dramatic finale.
Completely convincing symphonically, it plays continuously in an effective three-in-one design.
A marvellous example of Brian's late polyphony, the Sixteenth (1960) is the finest of a group of five single-movement symphonies that signalled the start of his final compositional phase (1959-68), in which he completed no fewer than 20 symphonies. It too has its dramatic and evocative aspects, possibly derived from his reading of Herodotus while composing the work. But it is as absolute music that the work succeeds brilliantly. These performances, directed by Myer Fredman, still sound excellent.
It is a shame that No 24 was not available to complete an all-Brian disc, but the inclusion of Arnold Cooke's Third (1967) will not disappoint.
Certainly, there are stylistic differences; not for nothing was Cooke described (or derided?) as the 'English Hindemith', but the influence of his German teacher never hampered his expressive mission. The Third's outer movements are brisk and vigorous but its heart is the central Lento, which opens like a missing interlude from Mathis der Maler. Another first-class performance, too. Full marks to Lyrita for its remastering, especially in dealing with Brian's singular orchestral soundscapes. Strongly recommended.”