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Those who have never heard it insist that ‘The Gothic’ is huge, dark and unperformable, as perversely solemn and overmanned as a North Korean state funeral. It does, indeed, require extraordinary forces, but no nuclear capability. Its sense of the gothic comes from the clean lines, high arches and soaring spaces of late medieval cathedral architecture, not from Mary Shelley, and Martyn Brabbins treats it accordingly. The augmented orchestra does not deliver undifferentiated mass but a highly nuanced sound in which each unusual addition – oboe d’amore, pedal clarinet, bass trumpet – is there for specific effect. The vocal tonalities in the huge ‘Te Deum’ and ‘Iudex’ that dominate part two – part one is orchestral – are complex, but Brabbins makes them shine. Nearly nine minutes of applause from the 2011 Promenaders – an odd experience for home listening, but every second is deserved.

BRIAN MORTON Read the full review on Agora Classica


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