Anthony Payne in the Daily Telegraph
Anthony Payne (writing in The Daily Telegraph) Another gap in our knowledge of the astonishing symphonic output of Havergal Brian was closed last night with a broadcast performance on BBC Radio 3 of the composer’s Symphony no. 28 in C minor, completed in 1967 when he was 91.
The New Philharmonia Orchestra was conducted by none other than Leopold Stokowski, who has apparently expressed great interest in Brian’s work.
It was fascinating to contemplate the uniqueness of the event - a 91-year-old conductor learning a new work by a 91-year-old composer.
The Symphony is in four continuous movements, yet is short, lasting for under 20 minutes, and - as always with Brian - a tremendous amount of expressive ground is traversed.
There is no sense of recapitulation. Each movement moved continually forwards and the argument is connected in the next, which, together with the composer’s compressed and elliptical syntax, makes for extremely tough and wide ranging symphonic architecture.
The poetical aura of the symphony is difficult to describe. The first three movements in their mysterious way are given to restrained heroic lyricism, with, at the outset, an almost neo-classic energy.
But the finale proceeds to a stubborn climax.
Daily Telegraph © 8 June 1973