Gramophone Magazine February 2012 Editor's Choice
On 17 July 2011 over 800 performers gathered in London’s Royal Albert Hall to give a rare performance of Havergal Brian’s Symphony No 1 in D minor—‘The Gothic’. Tickets for this Prom sold out within 24 hours, and so it gives us great pleasure to make this live recording available to all.
It’s a pretty phenomenal work. Responding to the challenge set by Sir Henry Wood, the composer has thrown just about every known orchestral instrument into the mix, then adding a double chorus of over 500, plus children’s choirs, for an hour-long Te Deum—the church’s blazing Hymn of Thanksgiving—which makes up the symphony’s finale.
Whether or not you were lucky enough to be there on the night, this is a recording not to be missed.
the best [recording] yet. There's an ongoing buzz of Proms atmosphere that grips from start to finish; and the recorded sound succeeds phenomenally at somehow fitting Brian's hugest climaxes alongside the delicate scoring of other passages into a convincing perspective. Under Brabbins's forthright direction, even the work's poorer passages (and whatever Brian's fanatical supporters say, there are plenty) don't sprawl. BBC ****
Hyperion's release is a perfect one, of a great event, a magisterial work and an encapsulation of the enormous difficulties of the project as a whole...[Brabbins emphasises] the kaleidoscopic variety of speeds, textures and invention in the score. Aided by Hyperion's sensational sound, details which barely registered before become crystal clear...I cannot recommend it strongly enough. Gramophone
credit to Martyn Brabbins for overseeing a performance which emphatically does not play it safe: enabling the piece to be appreciated for a formal evolution as oblique and purposeful as is its emotional progression...the discreet but intent control exerted over the vast numbers leaves no doubt as to his conviction. That the capacity audience betrays so few sign of its presence says much in itself. Int. Record Review