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Classical CD Reviews, April 2018

Walker and his Russians do a credible job—miles beyond the old norm. Sometimes the rhythm becomes momentarily ragged, although it quickly rights itself. More important, Brian’s symphonies demand many performances from top-flight orchestras and conductors before their worth can find commensurate appreciation. No surprise, but the best performance on this CD is of the Sixth, the work with the most extensive performing and recording tradition. The sound is quite good. © 2018 Classical CD Reviews



Don O’Connor
American Record Guide, September 2015

The playing is confident—even swaggering. The dark Russian color makes the performance seem more integrated. In all these works, [Walker’s] direction makes them sound fascinating and, I suspect, as coherent as anyone ever will. © 2015 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide



Lynn René Bayley
Fanfare, September 2015

Walker is a superb Brian conductor. He understands the very “British” nature and quality of this music and, moreover, phrases everything with the utmost care and an exquisite sense of legato without sacrificing clarity. Along with his wonderful sense of legato one hears very fine textural clarity without sounding overly fussy.

…a very fine disc and thanks to the two world premiere recordings, a valuable one for Brian fanciers. The New Russian State Symphony plays this British music very well, too! © 2015 Fanfare Read complete review



Phillip Scott
Fanfare, September 2015

One thing this recording does is to reveal the strength and power of Brian’s orchestral imagination: The climaxes are absolutely tremendous. The excellent sound expands to accommodate these peaks, and again Walker is expert at controlling the rise and fall of the musical progress. The new Naxos disc is a must for Brian aficionados. © 2015 Fanfare Read complete review



Steve Arloff
MusicWeb International, July 2015

In Alexander Walker’s hands the New Russia State Symphony Orchestra make a well argued case for the symphony [No. 28]. It stands revealed as a remarkable creation that is full of drama with a darkly beautiful edge.

The overriding summation of Brian’s symphonies is that his feel for melody, harmony and downright excellent tunes coupled with a total mastery of orchestration makes the neglect he experienced all the more difficult to comprehend. It really is time that the listening public took more notice of him as well as seeing his works featured more widely at the Proms and in other concert programmes. I hope this CD helps that process along for both orchestra and conductor do Brian proud. © 2015 MusicWeb International Read complete review



Guy Rickards
Gramophone, July 2015

Alexander Walker’s interpretations…stand up well against their older rivals and in the Sinfonia tragica he produces a marvellously nuanced, rather Russian-sounding performance, with some occasionally Shostakovichian brass.

The New Russia State Symphony Orchestra do the music proud. The sound quality is very good, too, as it needs to be for Brian’s complex, multi-layered invention. Recommended. © 2015 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone




Michael Cookson
MusicWeb International, May 2015

…the partnership between conductor Alexander Walker and the New Russia State Symphony Orchestra is a fruitful one. My expectations of high performance quality were fully met by these gripping accounts. Walker achieves extraordinarily intense playing that illuminates this music to its best advantage. There’s excellent sound quality with the disc being especially well balanced and with good clarity. This Naxos release is a prime recommendation, de rigueur for all Brian admirers and lovers of British music alike. © 2015 MusicWeb International Read complete review



Grego Applegate Edwards
Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review, May 2015

The four symphonies programmed on the current release give you a listening experience both fascinating and rewarding. The New Russia State Symphony Orchestra under Walker furnishes us versions that sparkle with sonic vitality. There is enthusiasm to be heard and a full commitment to the stylistic particularities. …we are well served by these recordings and get the full impact of Havergal Brian and his tremendous burst of energy in the last decades of his life. © 2015 Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review Read complete review




David Hurwitz
ClassicsToday.com, May 2015

…the performances under Alexander Walker sound remarkably assured given the unfamiliarity of the material, and they are very well recorded. © 2015 ClassicsToday.com Read complete review



Rad Bennett
RadsReferenceReviews, May 2015

Walker and his fine musicians are alert to one of the main features of Brian’s music, its abrupt mood changes. Walker gets good engineering, and the Naxos recording sounds rich and robust yet detailed… © 2015 RadsReferenceReviews Read complete review



Bob McQuiston
Classical Lost and Found, April 2015

The New Russia State Symphony Orchestra makes an impressive [account] here under conductor Alexander Walker. He gets committed, dynamic performances from the NRSSO, whose members dispatch the many demanding solos in these kaleidoscopic works with great aplomb.

The recordings…are excellent. They project a robust soundstage in an ideally resonant acoustic. Brian’s scoring for large orchestras with extensive percussion sections make for a most impressive sonic image. © 2015 Classical Lost and Found Read complete review



David Denton
David's Review Corner, April 2015

This disc takes us past the half-way point in Naxos’s project to record all of the thirty-two symphonies by the highly prolific British composer, Havergal Brian. That he was to begin composing the last twenty-six of them when he was already turned seventy-two has placed him in many minds as an eccentric, but this exceptionally well-played disc must surely put such outdated comments to rest. Take the earliest, the Sixth, a work written, just as Sibelius had done before him, in one movement, and you realise this was a unique musical voice who could so succinctly combine all the ingredients of a conventional four movement symphony into a short continuous time span. Completed in 1948, you can also well find in the score Brian’s comment on the futility of war, though whatever were his thoughts, it is a masterpiece. The Twenty-eighth and Twenty-ninth were written in 1967 when he was ninety-one, and so poverty stricken that friends bought him manuscript paper. Here again, though in a four movement format, they play continuously, and were couched in ‘tonality’, though in a very personal view of that word. The problem they face is their time-span—fourteen and twenty-three minutes respectively—which rather places them in no-man’s-land when it comes to scheduling them in a concert programme. The disc concludes with his short Thirty-first and penultimate symphony, a work couched in happiness. As a self-confessed Brian devotee, I beg of you to hear his music. At first you will find his language ‘unusual’, but he was without doubt one of the most unique and gifted British composers of the 21st century. Though not technically difficult to play, it’s idiom has to be absorbed by the performers, and here the fine Russian orchestra responds to the British conductor, Alexander Walker, with that dedication that all neglected works require. Very good sound. © 2015 Daivd’s Review Corner



Robert Matthew-Walker
Classicalsource.com, March 2015

…the Moscow orchestra…deliver performances of notable distinction, of music that is by no means easy to grasp and which poses problems to any ensemble that undertakes it. The undoubted success of this release has to be laid at the feet of Alexander Walker, who clearly has the grasp of this remarkably condensed and unique series of works.

A magnificent record… © 2015 Classicalsource.com Read complete review





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