“It really does sound like one of the finest British violin concertos, worthy of comparison with Elgar’s, Walton’s, Britten’s, Stevens’s and McCabe’s” Gramophone
“The late Robert Simpson once referred to Havergal Brian as the 'Original Awkward Cuss raised to the level of genius'. A highly misunderstood composer, one either loves (sadly the minority) or hates his music. Michael Oliver clearly liked it, as his review of the original release shows, where he waxed lyrical over the kind of compositional processes, games even, that Brian played in his Violin Concerto (1934- 35). He described the performance of Kazakh virtuoso Marat Bisengaliev as 'jaw-droppingly' good; hearing it again it really does sound like one of the finest British violin concertos, worthy of comparison with Elgar's, Walton's, Britten's, Stevens's and McCabe's. Tony Kime's excellent recording catches all the subtle detail of the solo writing – especially when so wonderfully well played – along with the tuttis' massive splendour.
The best is saved until last, however, with the Symphony No 18 (1961), long a personal favourite. Written in gratitude for Bryan Fairfax, conductor of The Gothic's premiere that year, it is one of Brian's most beguiling march-fantasies, scored for a fairly standard orchestra. All the typical late Brian fingerprints are present, the bold, craggy harmonies, expressive dislocations and haunting melody.
Lionel Friend directs a crisp and crystal clear account of this quarter-hour gem. Very strongly recommended.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010