The CD is taken up mostly by the large-scale 4th Symphony. This work was written between the World Wars, and takes a highly original approach to the question of depicting the horrors of war in music. Whereas Britten draws the tragedy of war into a religious context, Brian (perversely considering the psalm text) sets out to horrify with excesses of bombast and brutality. The work is an extended in essay in sarcasm and parody far more scary than anything Mahler ever came up with, because with Brian, you are never quite certain that this IS parody. The thought that these vast acclamations and obsessions with violence could be genuinely-meant is a reflection on the concerns of the period.
There are elements of pastiche Handel, some a capella choral writing, some bits that sound like Mahler, others like Tippett and even later composers like Nicholas Maw, but underpinning it all is the highly distinctive voice of Brian weaving it all into a coherent and forceful whole.
Definitely one of my most treasured CDs (though not one for idle listening).