Author Topic: sir Malcolm Arnold  (Read 35969 times)

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Offline Thom

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sir Malcolm Arnold
« on: April 12, 2007, 10:28:13 AM »
I think Malcolm deserves a thread in the new forum. I really like to champion this man who was such a prolific composer. The core of his output are his 9 symphonies of which i rate his 9th the best. His music often balances between the dark and the light. Such was his life really. An exuberant man, loved by many and during his good spells a humorous, warm personality, who on the other hand was also suffering from mental disorders for which he was hospitalised several times. It all reflects in his music i suppose. I recently acquired the 3 boxed sets by Decca, that were to commemorate his 85th birthday in october last year. Arnold died a short time before his birthday.
Anyway, there were a few threads about Arnold in the old forum. I hope more of you feel the same about him as i do.

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Harry

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Re: sir Malcolm Arnold
« Reply #1 on: April 12, 2007, 10:35:04 AM »
Of course there are many admirers on this board, and since you have the complete works on three boxes, the Decca recordings we know your admiration.
Today I played this one, and good it is.

Offline Brewski

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Re: sir Malcolm Arnold
« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2007, 10:43:46 AM »
A few threads from the other board below (one started by XXXPawn!).  I just discovered this composer last fall, thanks to some of those Chandos recordings, and am very glad I did.  Was sad when he died just a short time after that...

Malcolm Arnold

Sir Malcolm Arnold, 1921-2006

--Bruce
Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.
     ~ Gustav Mahler

Twitter: @BruceHodgesNY

Offline Thom

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Re: sir Malcolm Arnold
« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2007, 10:50:21 AM »
Of course there are many admirers on this board, and since you have the complete works on three boxes, the Decca recordings we know your admiration.
Today I played this one, and good it is.

I own this one Harry



and i think these quartets are very good indeed, his 2nd especially.

Offline Archaic Torso of Apollo

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Re: sir Malcolm Arnold
« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2007, 10:56:37 AM »
Terry Teachout is a critic I usually don't have much sympathy with, but in this article from Commentary, I think he hits the nail on the head in regard to Arnold's real worth:


Terry Teachout: Discovering Malcolm Arnold

When Malcolm Arnold died in September, the obituaries in several of
England's leading newspapers referred to him in the headline as a
"film composer." The Guardian summed up his life's work as follows:


The tormented but irrepressible career of Sir Malcolm Arnold, the
most recorded British composer of all time and the first to win an
Oscar, ended last night with his death at the age of eighty-four.


Not until the fourth paragraph did readers of the Guardian learn
that in addition to scoring The Bridge on the River Kwai (for which
he won his Oscar in 1958) and 131 other movies, Arnold also found
time to write nine symphonies, two dozen concertos, and numerous
other orchestral and chamber works.


While the critical "appreciations" that ran the next day were
better informed, few did more than sketch the outlines of this
composer's controversial career, and they did so at times
evasively. The BBC, for instance, declared that "while some
regarded [Arnold] as one of the pre-eminent composers of his
generation, others saw him as superficial and flippant." The BBC
failed to mention that its own music controllers had long made no
secret of their disdain for his music.


Meanwhile, in American newspapers, Arnold's death went largely
unmentioned--for the good reason that his compositions are
virtually unknown to American audiences. To the extent that he has
a following in this country, it is mainly through the recordings
that have been made of his symphonies in recent years.^1 Indeed,
until a few months ago Malcolm Arnold was little more than a name
to me, too. In a lifetime of concert-going, I had never heard a
public performance of any of his works. All I knew was that he was
widely regarded as a lightweight--a judgment reinforced by his
bluff, breezy personal manner and the self-deprecating statements
he made about his own music. ("If you can say it in words of one
syllable, musically speaking, it's your duty to do so.")


It was only after learning that he suffered from a lifelong case of
manic depression so malignant it had brought his career to a
premature end that it occurred to me to question the received
wisdom about Arnold. Intrigued that he had none-theless managed to
produce a substantial body of work, I procured a copy of Malcolm
Arnold: Rogue Genius (2004), a biography by Anthony Meredith and
Paul Harris that has yet to be published in this country.^2 ^What I
read there was so fascinating that I decided to listen to Arnold's
Fifth Symphony, composed in 1961.


Most of the British critics who covered the premiere of this piece
did so in a brutally dismissive fashion. The London Observer's
Peter Heyworth, for instance, called it the work of a "tub-thumper"
who had "thrown the last shreds of discretion to the winds," while
the anonymous critic for the London Times claimed that it suggested
"a creative personality in an advanced stage of disintegration." To
my amazement, Arnold's Fifth turned out to be not a shoddy piece of
crowd-pleasing yard goods but a compelling, fully realized example
of mid-century modernism that was worthy of comparison with the
best symphonies of Prokofiev and Shostakovich. From the Fifth, I
went on to listen to the rest of his symphonies and a considerable
number of his other works. By the time I was done, it was clear to
me that Arnold, far from being a lightweight, was in fact a major
composer.


Why, then, had he been written off by the critics? Thereby, I was
to learn, hangs a tale of snobbery, provincialism, and aesthetic
ideology run rampant--as well as a chronicle of self-destructive
behavior that is, in the fullest sense of an oft-misused word,
tragic.


Much of Arnold's remarkable individuality can be explained by
taking a close look at his musical training and early professional
life. Born in 1921, he discovered jazz at the age of nine and
taught himself the trumpet in order "to play like Louis Armstrong."
He would remain interested in jazz for the rest of his life--the
slow movement of his Guitar Concerto (1957), for instance, is an
elegy for the great guitarist Django Reinhardt--and though its
influence rarely finds literal expression in his own works, the
pronounced streak of populism that became his trademark no doubt
stemmed from this early encounter.^3


In 1941, Arnold joined the London Philharmonic Orchestra, becoming
its principal trumpet player shortly thereafter. During his tenure
with the LPO, he performed a wide variety of orchestral literature
under such distinguished conductors as Sir Thomas Beecham, Wilhelm
Furtwängler, and Bruno Walter, all of whom were impressed by his
playing, as was everyone else who heard him. ("Why do you want to
be a composer?" Ralph Vaughan Williams asked him, apparently in
genuine bewilderment. "You're the best trumpet player in England.")


Arnold was, indeed, one of only a handful of important composers to
have been a professional orchestral player, as well as the only one
to have played a brass instrument, and the impact of these
experiences on his composing career cannot be understated. As he
would explain to an interviewer:


I have tried to treat definite, straightforward, understandable
material with the utmost simplicity in what I hope is an
interesting manner, treating every single orchestral sound and note
as meaning something and not to be wasted. When you sit in the
orchestra, as I have, you can't help seeing and being disgusted
with the waste of players' energies and talents on mountains of
useless padding.


Arnold also studied conducting with Constant Lambert, the
composer-critic who doubled as music director of the Sadler's Wells
Ballet (now the Royal Ballet). Unlike most British composers of his
generation, Lambert was decidedly Franco-Russian in musical
orientation; he was also closely familiar with early jazz, whose
rhythms and timbres he wove into The Rio Grande (1929) and his
Concerto for Piano and Nine Instruments (1931). It cannot be
coincidental that when Arnold started writing music of his own, it
was just as far removed as Lambert's from the prevailing tendencies
of English modernism. Though Gustav Holst's The Planets left its
mark on his style, Arnold's other musical models were not Edward
Elgar or Vaughan Williams but Berlioz, Mahler, Sibelius, and
(later) Shostakovich.^4


To this volatile brew of seemingly irreconcilable sources, Arnold
added an enlivening dash of the populism he had picked up from
Lambert and the jazzmen who inspired him in childhood. The result
was Beckus the Dandipratt (1943), a concert overture that became
the twenty-one-year-old composer's calling card. A comic scherzo
whose galumphing triple-time rhythms are reminiscent of the
"Uranus" section of The Planets, Beckus is in every other way a
wholly personal utterance, and its pawky wit and luminous
orchestration signaled the emergence of an arrestingly fresh new
voice in British music.^5


Like all such voices, Arnold's was initially viewed with suspicion.
In 1943 and for many years afterward, the British musical
establishment--including the BBC, which already played a key role
in the dissemination of new music in England--was both conservative
and provincial. Its bureaucrats, appalled by the extrovert vigor
and proliferating imagination of Arnold's early compositions, did
their best to keep them from being broadcast. As late as 1951, a
BBC apparatchik dismissed his First Symphony in an internal memo as
"blatant and vulgar . . . not the product of an adult musical
mind." But audiences responded with excitement to his engaging
blend of sophistication and the common touch, and eventually even
the BBC was forced to come around--for a time.


It helped that, by 1948, Arnold was earning enough money from his
film scores to leave the LPO and set up shop as a full-time
composer. A technician of near-Mozartean facility, he was capable
of turning out a half-dozen movie scores each year, and this highly
paid work made it unnecessary for him to curry favor elsewhere. In
the long run, however, it served him poorly, not only because it
diverted his energies from more substantial efforts but because his
film scores, while never less than professional, were rarely
inspired or memorable. In addition, Arnold's work in films provoked
resentment among critics--and colleagues--who viewed him as a
bumptious, unserious upstart with no right to be popular, much less
rich and famous.^6


With the public, however, it seemed throughout the 50's that
Malcolm Arnold could do no wrong. As a classical composer, he
continued to turn out a steady stream of large-scale orchestral and
chamber pieces, all of them received warmly. Aside from his first
five symphonies, composed between 1951 and 1961, he wrote a series
of concise, elegantly crafted concertos, most of them neoclassical
in style, for such noted soloists as the horn player Dennis Brain,
the guitarist Julian Bream, and the oboist Léon Goossens.^7


At the same time, and with equal ease, Arnold moved in the sphere
of light music, producing such ingratiatingly tuneful orchestral
miniatures as the two sets of English Dances (1950-51). A natural
comedian, he collaborated with the cartoonist Gerard Hoffnung on a
festival of musical parodies for which he wrote A Grand, Grand
Overture (1956), scored for three vacuum cleaners, a floor
polisher, and a large symphony orchestra complete with organ.^8


It is in the symphonies, however, that Arnold can be heard at his
best and most characteristic. All of them are broadly but never
rigidly traditional in form, and, though their flavor is
unambiguously contemporary, all maneuver fluently and naturally
within the parameters of functional tonality. Indeed, Arnold's
harmonic vocabulary, which juxtaposes prickly bi-tonal polychords
with sweet-sounding major-seventh cadences, is one of the most
immediately recognizable features of his style.


"So few composers have a distinctive sound--with air and light,"
Arnold observed in 1951. In common with Berlioz and Mahler, his
wind-dominated orchestral palette is unusually light-textured, with
brass and percussion held in reserve for fiery bursts of primary
color. Like Berlioz, he favors violent contrasts--one is never far
from catastrophe in an Arnold symphony--and like Mahler, he loves
to slip marches into his slow movements and finales, some funereal
and others explosively martial. Mahler is also the obvious
reference point for his use of quasi-popular tunes, some of which
are purposefully vulgar in effect.


Arnold was a passionate believer in the expressive power of melody,
and though he never pandered to audiences, he liked to please them
when he could. Revealingly, he once observed with admiration that
the novels of Somerset Maugham could be "read with pleasure by one
and all." That was his goal as well.


Above all, Arnold's symphonies are reflections of his complex,
frequently stormy emotional life. He once stated that "my
symphonies . . . are autobiographical, but I prefer them to be
approached as pure music," explaining the apparent paradox in this
way:


I like music because it is not connected with any time, place, or
particular thing. It is abstract emotion. As soon as you get words,
you're tied to a particular object or situation, inevitably, by the
use of words, which to me limits the vast horizons that music has
from an emotional point of view.


For this reason Arnold rarely spoke in public (or in private) about
the programmatic content of his symphonies, though he admitted that
the three movements of his Seventh Symphony (1973) were "in the
very loosest way . . . musical portraits" of his three children. It
is now thought that many of his other symphonies were based in
whole or in part on secret programs of a similarly autobiographical
nature. If true, this would shed light on such seemingly
inexplicable departures from conventional form as the startling
moment at the end of the Fifth Symphony when, immediately after the
full orchestra presents a resplendently triumphant D-major version
of the lyrical main theme of the slow movement. Arnold swerves
without warning into E minor, the austere key in which the symphony
begins, and brings the finale to a close with a stark coda that
trails off into dead silence.^9


Arnold was enraged by the contempt with which critics savaged his
Fifth Symphony. Asked by a reporter whether such notices embittered
him, he replied:


I'll tell you how bitter I am--only as bitter as a man who wants to
stand up and walk down the street and doesn't want people shouting
offensive, patronizing remarks after him. The critics have got to
live, but for Christ's sake why don't they let me live too?


Needless to say, Arnold was not the only composer to be raked over
the coals in the 60's by critics who wrongly believed tonality to
be obsolete. As much as anything else, their consistent refusal to
take him seriously stemmed from their long-simmering rage at the
provincialism of British musical life, and it was his bad luck to
be caught in the crossfire. But by then he had something far more
serious to worry about: the likelihood that he was going mad.


Mental illness ran in Arnold's family, and from adolescence onward
he showed signs of an underlying instability that went far beyond
the "eccentricity" on which the English pride themselves. As a
student he was notorious for his heavy drinking and sexual
excesses. In 1943 he appears to have been hospitalized for what was
then thought to be schizophrenia; in 1945 he enlisted in the army
even though he had previously claimed to be a pacifist, and a month
later shot himself in the foot in order to return to civilian life.
Thereafter, his life would be marked by recurrent psychotic
episodes, suicide attempts, and hospitalizations.


For a quarter-century, Arnold nonetheless managed to function as a
composer and conductor, though his bizarre behavior, exacerbated by
what in time developed into full-blown alcoholism, became steadily
more difficult to ignore or paper over. Naturally enough, many of
those unaware that he was mentally ill found his conduct
shocking--a fact that also helps to explain the distaste with which
he came to be regarded by a growing number of his fellow
musicians.^10


It is impossible to speak definitively of the extent to which
Arnold's music was affected by his mental illness, though it is
tempting to attribute some of its more extreme contrasts of mood,
as well as the explicit anguish of such later works as the dark,
tonally ambiguous Symphony for Brass Instruments (1978), to the
effects of manic depression.^11 What is clear, however, is that he
found it increasingly difficult to compose as his periods of mania
grew more frequent and intense, and after completing the Symphony
for Brass Instruments and the tempestuous Eighth Symphony (which he
wrote in a mental hospital), he seemed close to stopping
altogether. Between 1978 and 1982 he produced only one work, a
flimsy trumpet concerto, after which he fell silent once more.


In 1986, Arnold, who by that time was being cared for around the
clock by a nurse-companion, pulled himself together sufficiently to
write a four-movement symphony, his ninth and last. It is an
unsettling work whose paper-thin textures (most of it is written in
two parts) leave no doubt that his brain had been irreparably
damaged by decades of chronic alcoholism. Yet even with the modest
technical means remaining at his disposal, Arnold miraculously
contrived to spin out a (mostly) convincing musical argument,
though the symphony's bare simplicity led his publishers to reject
it, and it was not played in public until 1996.


The Ninth Symphony was not Arnold's last composition; he eked out a
dozen more pieces, none of them memorable and some only marginally
competent. But its finale, a 25-minute-long elegy that recalls the
last movement of Mahler's Ninth Symphony, was universally taken to
be his swan song. Arnold himself spoke of it as "an amalgam of all
my knowledge of life." He wrote no more music after 1990, slowly
withdrawing into the haze of dementia in the years that remained to
him.


By then, though, the collapse of the avant-garde monopoly and the
restoration of tonality that followed had led to a revaluation of
Arnold's music that continues to this day. A new generation of
musicians began to record his symphonies and other works, and these
recordings were praised by critics for whom the war against the
modernism-hating provincials of the 40's was no more than a
half-remembered episode in the history of British music. For the
first time since 1961, it was all right to like Malcolm Arnold.


Will it remain so? To second-guess posterity is the chanciest of
undertakings, but it certainly appears that his time has come at
last. For my part, I cannot recall the last time I have responded
so powerfully to the music of a classical composer with whom I was
hitherto unfamiliar. It filled me with chagrin to realize that the
creator of works like the Second and Fifth Symphonies, the Symphony
for Brass Instruments, and the concertos for guitar and two violins
(to name only a handful of Arnold's finest efforts) had been active
for the better part of my adult life. How, I wondered, could I have
overlooked a master who was hiding in plain sight all along?


Such, alas, is the anaesthetizing power of an unexamined consensus.
For, of all the many composers to whose careers the postwar
avant-garde laid waste, Arnold may well be the one whose posthumous
reputation is destined to soar the highest. Though it was only
months ago that I heard his music for the first time, I already
feel confident in ranking him with Elgar, Vaughan Williams, William
Walton, and Benjamin Britten as one of the greatest English
composers of the 20th century. I am no less confident that music
lovers of the 21st century will feel the same way.


Terry Teachout, COMMENTARY's regular music critic and the drama
critic of the Wall Street Journal, is at work on a biography of
Louis Armstrong. He blogs about the arts at www.terryteachout.com.


^1 The most readily available (and least expensive) complete set of
Arnold's symphonies is by Andrew Penny and the National Symphony
Orchestra of Ireland. They are coupled as follows: Nos. 1 and 2
(Naxos 8.553406), Nos. 3 and 4 (8.553739), Nos. 5 and 6 (8.552000),
Nos. 7 and 8 (8.552001) and No. 9 (8.553540). These CD's, and the
others referred to below, can be purchased by viewing this article
at Commentary's website, www.commentarymagazine.com, during the
month of November.
In addition, Vernon Handley's recordings of the symphonies are
included in the first volume of The Malcolm Arnold Edition, a newly
released series of three boxed sets available from amazon.co.uk.
These sets contain most of Arnold's major compositions, including
all of the works mentioned in this article (Decca 476 533-7, 476
534-3, and 476-534-8, 13 CD's).


^2 It can, however, be ordered from Amazon.com.


^3 The British Music Collection: Malcolm Arnold (Decca 468 302-2)
contains a performance of the concerto by Eduardo Fernandez, Barry
Wordsworth, and the English Chamber Orchestra.


^4 A typical example of Arnold's eclectic taste is the list of
pieces he cited as personal favorites on a 1960 edition of the BBC
series Desert Island Discs: Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique,
Elgar's Introduction and Allegro, a partsong by Holst, Purcell's
Fantasia Upon One Note, Sibelius' Fourth Symphony, Stravinsky's
Symphony of Psalms, Tom Lehrer's comic song "Fight Fiercely
Harvard," and a 1939 recording of "Dipper Mouth Blues" by Muggsy
Spanier's Ragtime Band.


^5 Rumon Gamba has recorded Beckus the Dandipratt and nine other
Arnold overtures with the BBC Philharmonic (Chandos CHAN 1029). The
1947 premiere recording of Beckus by Eduard van Beinum and the
London Philharmonic, on which Arnold can be heard playing trumpet,
has been reissued for the first time since its original release (on
78's) as part of the third volume of The Malcolm Arnold Edition.


^6 Because Arnold worked almost exclusively on English films, few
of which were seen outside the British Isles, his music for The
Bridge on the River Kwai (which he wrote in ten days) is the only
one of his scores with which American moviegoers are familiar.


^7 Seventeen of Arnold's concertos are included in the second
volume of The Malcolm Arnold Edition.


^8 The English Dances have been recorded by Bryden Thomson and the
Philharmonia (Chandos CHAN 8867). A Grand, Grand Overture is on
Rumon Gamba's Chandos CD.


^9 He would later explain that the Fifth Symphony is "filled with
memories of friends of mine who died young." The authors of Malcolm
Arnold: Rogue Genius identify one of the "friends" in question as
his older brother Aubrey, who committed suicide shortly before
Arnold began writing the symphony.


^10 Even Arnold's closest friends were stunned by some of his
wilder escapades. The critic and broadcaster John Amis described a
particularly notorious incident to the authors of Malcolm Arnold:
Rogue Genius: "On one occasion, and it was typical, he got through
an enormous meal--three or four dozen oysters, a couple of
carpetbag steaks, puddings, cheese, and with it all several bottles
of wine--before ending up on the floor having sex with a waitress."


^11 The British Music Collection: Malcolm Arnold contains a
spectacularly virtuosic performance of the Symphony for Brass
Instruments by the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble, for which the work
was written.
formerly VELIMIR (before that, Spitvalve)

"Who knows not strict counterpoint, lives and dies an ignoramus" - CPE Bach

Offline Thom

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Re: sir Malcolm Arnold
« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2007, 10:59:48 AM »
Terry Teachout is a critic I usually don't have much sympathy with, but in this article from Commentary, I think he hits the nail on the head in regard to Arnold's real worth:

Couldn't agree more!

X

Offline SonicMan46

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Re: sir Malcolm Arnold
« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2007, 11:03:15 AM »
And for those just getting into 20th century English Composers, check out this more Generic Thread; plenty of discussion of Arnold and many others, along with dozens of CD recommendations.  I own about a dozen Arnold CDs (again most likely shown in the thread mention or those by Bruce), including all the Symphonies, which are excellent.  The three chamber music discs on Helios w/ the Nash Ensemble are quite enjoyable; but I'll willing to explore more of his output!  :)


   

Offline Catison

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Re: sir Malcolm Arnold
« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2007, 04:06:14 PM »
The Madison Brass Band (which I participate in) is playing his two Little Suites for Brass Band.  They are absolutely wonderful gems.

 I've also really fallen in love with his 7th symphony.  I would like to get all the symphonies, so is there a box set worth obtaining?
-Brett

Offline Robert

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Re: sir Malcolm Arnold
« Reply #8 on: April 12, 2007, 06:36:33 PM »
I own this one Harry



and i think these quartets are very good indeed, his 2nd especially.

Do I love these quartets.  I have had these about 15 years... The first could easily be by Bartok or Shosty. a very disturbing quartet....a very uneasy allegro, a scherzo right out of Bartok frantic, shrieking, next a spooky andante, the insinuating rondo and the quiet coda.....the second is much larger more urgent. This one has some lush romantic themes  being undercut by various subversive dissonances and disruptions. .slow fast, slow. This  never seems to get resolved but comes to a sort of peace or consolation......awesome.... check it out......

Offline Thom

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Re: sir Malcolm Arnold
« Reply #9 on: April 12, 2007, 09:53:43 PM »
What an accurate summary, Robert. I concur wholeheartedly. Amongst his chamber works there are also some great pieces. Still, his true greatness, I think, lies in the 9 symphonies, of which i rate the 5 (what an adagio!), 7 and 9th the greatest.

X

Harry

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Re: sir Malcolm Arnold
« Reply #10 on: April 12, 2007, 10:39:59 PM »
The Madison Brass Band (which I participate in) is playing his two Little Suites for Brass Band.  They are absolutely wonderful gems.

 I've also really fallen in love with his 7th symphony.  I would like to get all the symphonies, so is there a box set worth obtaining?

I would say that the Naxos set would do very nicely, a good recording, fine performance, and the stamp from the composer, since he was there with many of the recording sessions.

Offline Thom

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Re: sir Malcolm Arnold
« Reply #11 on: April 12, 2007, 10:55:13 PM »

I would say that the Naxos set would do very nicely, a good recording, fine performance, and the stamp from the composer, since he was there with many of the recording sessions.

Good morning Harry,

Was he really there Harry? I mean with all his mental facilities? There is a brief interview with Arnold on the Naxos disk and he doesn't seem to be very coherent in his speech. I do want to belief though that Arnold's stamp is on the Penny recordings which are very good in my opinion (I think I prefer them over the Handley recordings in the Decca anniversary boxed set).

X

Harry

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Re: sir Malcolm Arnold
« Reply #12 on: April 12, 2007, 11:05:09 PM »
Good morning Harry,

Was he really there Harry? I mean with all his mental facilities? There is a brief interview with Arnold on the Naxos disk and he doesn't seem to be very coherent in his speech. I do want to belief though that Arnold's stamp is on the Penny recordings which are very good in my opinion (I think I prefer them over the Handley recordings in the Decca anniversary boxed set).

X

Good morning to you too, my friend.

Altough his speech was impaired that does not mean he was not there with his mind. I read a interview with him shortly before he died, in which he clearly stated how happy he was during the recording sessions, and how happy he was with the results. Set your mind at rest about that. And if you listen to this Naxos set, there is no other conclusion than inspiring.
Handley's is a fine rendition, but for me less that the Penny recordings. Plus the Naxos sound is very good.
« Last Edit: April 12, 2007, 11:12:27 PM by Harry »

Offline Archaic Torso of Apollo

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Re: sir Malcolm Arnold
« Reply #13 on: April 12, 2007, 11:12:49 PM »
I've also really fallen in love with his 7th symphony.  I would like to get all the symphonies, so is there a box set worth obtaining?

Another vote for the Naxos box, one of the best things they've done IMHO.

That 7th Symphony is a scorcher, ain't it? It's like musical record of someone's psychological collapse.
formerly VELIMIR (before that, Spitvalve)

"Who knows not strict counterpoint, lives and dies an ignoramus" - CPE Bach

Harry

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Re: sir Malcolm Arnold
« Reply #14 on: April 12, 2007, 11:15:04 PM »
Another vote for the Naxos box, one of the best things they've done IMHO.

That 7th Symphony is a scorcher, ain't it? It's like musical record of someone's psychological collapse.

As long as you enjoy it! ;D

Offline Thom

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Re: sir Malcolm Arnold
« Reply #15 on: April 13, 2007, 12:29:03 AM »
I read an interview with him shortly before he died, in which he clearly stated how happy he was during the recording sessions, and how happy he was with the results.

Harry, Do you happen to know the DVD documentary "Into the unknown region" about Arnold? Some time ago I bought this DVD. Interesting watching. At the end of his life Arnold was seriously suffering from dementia. Shocking to watch at the end of the DVD how Arnold is mumbling and rambling, already there in that unknown region, about 'malcolm bloody arnold' with a lot of hatred, who knows about what.

Anyway I don't want to dispute Arnold's stamp on the Penny recordings. Indeed they are very good and i must say, i prefer them over the Handley's recordings on the anniversary Decca boxed set. Indeed the sound of the Naxos cd's is superb.

X

Harry

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Re: sir Malcolm Arnold
« Reply #16 on: April 13, 2007, 12:47:18 AM »
Harry, Do you happen to know the DVD documentary "Into the unknown region" about Arnold? Some time ago I bought this DVD. Interesting watching. At the end of his life Arnold was seriously suffering from dementia. Shocking to watch at the end of the DVD how Arnold is mumbling and rambling, already there in that unknown region, about 'Malcolm bloody Arnold' with a lot of hatred, who knows about what.

Anyway I don't want to dispute Arnold's stamp on the Penny recordings. Indeed they are very good and i must say, i prefer them over the Handley's recordings on the anniversary Decca boxed set. Indeed the sound of the Naxos cd's is superb.

X

The dementia did not cloud him all the time, and lots of his behaviour was attention seeking circus. When he had given up on life, life gave him up, and the dementia could grow at a fast rate.
I know the documentary yes, and he was treated badly by life, and some very nasty characters around him, did the rest, to instill him with hatred, that in the end destroys every human being, also Arnold.
It was good and soothing to him communicating with Penny about his Symphonies, and you can clearly hear the joy with which Penny is conducting.
For me these recordings are highlights!

Offline Thom

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Re: sir Malcolm Arnold
« Reply #17 on: April 13, 2007, 02:35:57 AM »
Thanks Harry. I also read his biography 'Arnold, Rogue Genius' which clarifies a lot about the 'bad' people around him, and on the whole about his colourful (to say the least) life.

X

tjguitar

  • Guest
Re: sir Malcolm Arnold
« Reply #18 on: April 15, 2007, 05:54:52 PM »
I bought the 3 DECCA box sets from Amazon UK, it was a pain because for whatever reason they aren't going to be released in the US and Amazon.com doesn't import them.  Thankfully it was a little bit cheaper than the advertised prices on amazon.co.uk because there is no VAT to international buyers (I'm guessing VAT is some sort of tax, that they include in their base price fro their UK buyers) I also used to have the naxos box and I still have mp3s but I sold it a while ago to buy new stuff, for whatever reason I stuck with the Handley, though the Penny is also quite good.


In addition to the 3 decca boxes (which are great!, though I wish they used clamp shell jewel cases instead of the soft boxes) and the 3 chamber music discs on hyperion shown above,  I also have these excellent Arnold CDs:



« Last Edit: April 15, 2007, 06:24:27 PM by tjguitar »

S709

  • Guest
Re: sir Malcolm Arnold
« Reply #19 on: April 15, 2007, 06:26:34 PM »
Arnold's symphonies are all well worth exploring, but I especially love the 7th Symphony. The extremely violent dissonant passages, the tragic lamentations of the 2nd movement, and the totally unexpected little Celtic dance in the conclusion -- what a piece ! (I have only heard the Penny versions of all the symphonies).

Thanks to all for the interesting info in this thread so far.

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