Author Topic: sir Malcolm Arnold  (Read 53504 times)

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Offline donaldopato

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Re: sir Malcolm Arnold
« Reply #60 on: April 14, 2009, 05:02:29 PM »
I've heard a lot of favourable comment regarding the Philharmonic Concerto. Are there any recommendable recordings available currently? I've tended to prefer Arnold in darker mood--the wild outbursts in works like the 7th symphony work extremely well within the overall rather bleak context of the work: are there other works in this vein? (I only know the symphonies and some of the concerti.)

There's a sense, I think, in which the later Arnold is a more harmonically conservative analogue to Schnittke
in his polystylistic tendencies. I do wonder if it's in part related to the fact that both were phenomenal film composers as well as creators of concert works of great personality--but perhaps that's a topic for another thread.


See my post above if you missed it, re Philharmonic Concerto. The LPO label has one with Handley LPO # 13 and one with Haitink LPO 23. I marginally prefer the Haitink as I heard him do it live. But the Handley has some great disc mates including a fine 6th Symphony and Beckus the Dandipratt Overture.
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Offline Lethevich

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Re: sir Malcolm Arnold
« Reply #61 on: April 21, 2010, 02:29:50 PM »
I've played his concerto for two pianos (on the EMI twofer with syms 1, 2, 5) a few times recently - a good piece with a memorable middle movement in which ravishing strings descending into various scenes of nightmarishness. Then there is a typically revolting Arnoldian pop-bassline influenced finale which is a hoot.  It's not a masterpiece like RVW's perennially underrated work, but it has a certain Schnittke-lite feeling of the macabre and burlesque which is pure enjoyment to listen to.

The viola concerto (Conifer) is up next - one of those Arnold works which goes in one ear and out the other with me, or at least has done in previous listens. Giving it a fresh go this time.
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Offline Christo

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Re: sir Malcolm Arnold
« Reply #62 on: April 21, 2010, 02:31:11 PM »
 :)
… music is not only an 'entertainment’, nor a mere luxury, but a necessity of the spiritual if not of the physical life, an opening of those magic casements through which we can catch a glimpse of that country where ultimate reality will be found.    RVW, 1948

Offline Lethevich

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Re: sir Malcolm Arnold
« Reply #63 on: April 21, 2010, 03:14:48 PM »
:D

The viola concerto (Conifer) is up next - one of those Arnold works which goes in one ear and out the other with me, or at least has done in previous listens. Giving it a fresh go this time.
Well, that came and went without much impact once again... :-\ The same for Tam O'Shanter, which has always sounded like much ado about nothing - it's propelled by bustle alone.

This occasional difficulty I have with Arnold reminds me of Brahms' description of Anton Rubinstein's compositions. He was quoted as saying that he admired the composer's music, but he wished that Rubinstein took more care over his compositions (presumably opposed to churning them out at a high turnover). It's a criticism which could very easily be applied to Arnold as well, and to some extent sabotages the exploration of his output. But then, this slight sour taste couldn't be anything other than appropriate for such a prickly figure with his moods and swings, the music feels close to his flawed personality...
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Scarpia

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Re: sir Malcolm Arnold
« Reply #64 on: June 12, 2010, 03:36:28 PM »
I know Arnold from a recording of the Symphony No. 9 on Naxos.  Now I've managed to obtain Hickox's symphony cycle and have started at No. 1. 

It is a really nice piece.  Arnold has a great ear for arresting sonorities, particularly involving brass.  The first movement, which seems to be constructed from a deceptively simple melodic cell, uses brilliant orchestration in a very original way.  I especially loved a passage near the end of the middle section of the second movement (andante) in which various soaring melodies are heard against and ominous thrumming from the low instruments in the orchestra.  The finale starts as a vigorous fugal movement (again, wonderful use of brass) which is followed by a grotesque little military march, which almost immediately yields to a breathtaking "maestoso" ending (the highlight of the entire piece) with quirky Shostakovichesq "wrong note" melodies and strangely shifting harmonies.

I am definitely an Arnold admirer.

« Last Edit: June 13, 2010, 04:45:03 AM by Scarpia »

Online vandermolen

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Re: sir Malcolm Arnold
« Reply #65 on: June 12, 2010, 08:58:11 PM »
A know Arnold from a recording of the Symphony No. 9 on Naxos.  Now I've managed to obtain Hickox's symphony cycle and have started at No. 1. 

It is a really nice piece.  Arnold has a great ear for arresting sonorities, particularly involving brass.  The first movement, which seems to be constructed from a deceptively simple melodic cell, uses brilliant orchestration in a very original way.  I especially loved a passage near the end of the middle section of the second movement (andante) in which various soaring melodies are heard against and ominous thrumming from the low instruments in the orchestra.  The finale starts as a vigorous fugal movement (again, wonderful use of brass) which is followed by a grotesque little military march, which almost immediately yields to a breathtaking "maestoso" ending (the highlight of the entire piece) with quirky Shostakovichesq "wrong note" melodies and strangely shifting harmonies.

I am definitely an Arnold admirer.

Symphony No 1 is one of my favourite works by Arnold.  Basically I like the odd numbered symphonies + more recently I've come to admire the rather elusive Symphony No 6 - also the Concerto for Two Pianos is good fun.

The CD below is one of my favourite Arnold discs.  It has his fine performance of Symphony No 1 and the only release of him conducting Symphony No 2 as well as a classic performance of his fine 5th Symphony etc.
« Last Edit: June 12, 2010, 09:03:32 PM by vandermolen »
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Scarpia

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Re: sir Malcolm Arnold
« Reply #66 on: June 13, 2010, 11:20:59 AM »
Symphony No 1 is one of my favourite works by Arnold.  Basically I like the odd numbered symphonies + more recently I've come to admire the rather elusive Symphony No 6 - also the Concerto for Two Pianos is good fun.

I am not reproducing your experience regarding even vs odd numbered symphonies.  Listened to Symphony No 2, and found it equally compelling, perhaps more so, compared with the first.  The one movement here which, perhaps, didn't convince was the scherzo.  The first is mainly in a bucolic vain, with the gentle opening music stated with wonderful grandeur toward the end of the movment.  The third movement, a grim slow movement builds to a monumental climax towards the middle.  The one aspect of it that left me somewhat puzzled is the way it backs away from that climax towards a conclusion which takes very long to arrive.  The final is also a wonderful piece, with a lively theme, interrupted by two very effective fugato passages (the first, particularly stirring one mostly for brass instruments) before coming to a spendid, extroverted coda.

I wouldn't say Arnold's gift is in the development of theme, so much as in the ability to cloak those themes in plendid orchestration and wonderfully, often dissonant harmonies.


Online vandermolen

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Re: sir Malcolm Arnold
« Reply #67 on: June 13, 2010, 12:55:11 PM »
I am not reproducing your experience regarding even vs odd numbered symphonies.  Listened to Symphony No 2, and found it equally compelling, perhaps more so, compared with the first.  The one movement here which, perhaps, didn't convince was the scherzo.  The first is mainly in a bucolic vain, with the gentle opening music stated with wonderful grandeur toward the end of the movment.  The third movement, a grim slow movement builds to a monumental climax towards the middle.  The one aspect of it that left me somewhat puzzled is the way it backs away from that climax towards a conclusion which takes very long to arrive.  The final is also a wonderful piece, with a lively theme, interrupted by two very effective fugato passages (the first, particularly stirring one mostly for brass instruments) before coming to a spendid, extroverted coda.

I wouldn't say Arnold's gift is in the development of theme, so much as in the ability to cloak those themes in plendid orchestration and wonderfully, often dissonant harmonies.

Actually, I like all Arnold's symphonies (I could say the same of Bax). Probably my favourites are 1 and 5 (coupled together on Vernon Handley's fine old Conifer CD). You might like the performance of Symphony No 2 on the EMI CD I mentioned earlier - it is quite different to the Groves performance.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Scarpia

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Re: sir Malcolm Arnold
« Reply #68 on: June 13, 2010, 12:58:20 PM »
You might like the performance of Symphony No 2 on the EMI CD I mentioned earlier - it is quite different to the Groves performance.

I looked for that CD, but did not find it available.  The recording I am listening to is not Groves, but Hickox.  The recording is splendid in every way, particularly the superb audio engineering.


Online vandermolen

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Re: sir Malcolm Arnold
« Reply #69 on: June 13, 2010, 01:31:00 PM »
I looked for that CD, but did not find it available.  The recording I am listening to is not Groves, but Hickox.  The recording is splendid in every way, particularly the superb audio engineering.



CD is available here, although you will not go wrong with the Hickox or Handley series:


http://www.amazon.co.uk/Arnold-conducts-Philharmonia-Orchestra/dp/B000MCIB6Q/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1276468043&sr=1-1





"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Teresa

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Re: sir Malcolm Arnold
« Reply #70 on: June 13, 2010, 11:13:25 PM »
Malcolm Arnold is also one of my favorite composers.  I love the Tam O' Shanter Overture the best.  But I also love all of his other overtures as well as the English, Irish, Scottish, and Cornish Dances.

I have heard all nine of his symphonies as I purchased the CD set on Naxos which I quickly sold as I didn't like the sound quality so currently I only have Symphony No. 4 conducted by Malcolm Arnold himself on Lyrita which I enjoy a lot, but it is his shorter works I really love, so I am not actively seeking his other symphonies.

My best sounding Arnold recording is Overtures on Reference Recordings, a 24 Bit 88.2kHz music file downloaded from HDTracks. 

Offline Sergeant Rock

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Re: sir Malcolm Arnold
« Reply #71 on: June 14, 2010, 03:45:40 AM »
Once again I thank you all for the conversation (particularly how Arnold relates to Shostakovich and Mahler). Although Arnold was one of the first composers I listened to as a kid (Tam O'Shanter was on a LP I got from the library--the LP included a conductor's baton  ;D ) I haven't seriously listened to him (even though I own quite a bit: 1-4 Penny, 6 Handley, 9 Penny and the Dances). The last time I tried any of the symphonies, they didn't make an impression. Completely my fault--must have been the mood I was in because I listened to 1 and 2 last night after the football match and was blown away. How is it possible that I've ignored this music for 40 years?

Anyway, I ordered Penny's 5, 6, 7, 8 (unlike Teresa I really like the sound of the Naxos discs and Penny, according to ClassicsToday, takes the music slower than Hickox or Handley, which appeals to me). I also ordered the twofer with 1, 2, and 5 that Vandermolen thinks so highly of, and the String Quartets.

Sarge
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Mahler, you ought to go see it.
he was as f*cked-up as you are."
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Online vandermolen

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Re: sir Malcolm Arnold
« Reply #72 on: June 14, 2010, 04:53:07 AM »
Once again I thank you all for the conversation (particularly how Arnold relates to Shostakovich and Mahler). Although Arnold was one of the first composers I listened to as a kid (Tam O'Shanter was on a LP I got from the library--the LP included a conductor's baton  ;D ) I haven't seriously listened to him (even though I own quite a bit: 1-4 Penny, 6 Handley, 9 Penny and the Dances). The last time I tried any of the symphonies, they didn't make an impression. Completely my fault--must have been the mood I was in because I listened to 1 and 2 last night after the football match and was blown away. How is it possible that I've ignored this music for 40 years?

Anyway, I ordered Penny's 5, 6, 7, 8 (unlike Teresa I really like the sound of the Naxos discs and Penny, according to ClassicsToday, takes the music slower than Hickox or Handley, which appeals to me). I also ordered the twofer with 1, 2, and 5 that Vandermolen thinks so highly of, and the String Quartets.

Sarge

I'm sure you'll enjoy those Sarge - let us know what you think.  Just ordered this - issued for Arnold's 75th Birthday. It used to be prohibitively expensive second-hand (it is long deleted) but has recently come down in price.  I especially want to hear 'Song of Simeon'. Funny cover picture too.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: sir Malcolm Arnold
« Reply #73 on: April 16, 2011, 07:39:25 PM »
Time to revive this thread...

I went on an Arnold binge a few years ago. I bought all of the Andrew Penny recordings of the symphonies, bought all of Hickox's recordings, Bryden Thomson's recording of the dances, the Decca box of concertos (wanted the other Decca sets but they were out-of-print), an overtures set with the composer himself conducting (on Reference Recordings), and the Chandos recording of overtures (w/ Rumon Gamba I believe?). Anyway, I like his music a lot. I think the symphonies are his strongest point because they display the real breadth of the man and his abilities as a composer of symphonic music.

I think it's time to revisit the symphonies.
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Offline Archaic Torso of Apollo

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Re: sir Malcolm Arnold
« Reply #74 on: April 16, 2011, 11:33:05 PM »
I think it's time to revisit the symphonies.

Same for me - it's been a while. I did listen to the 3rd Symphony recently, and it reminded me how great his range of expression was. He could write a solid piece of quasi-Sibelius like the 3rd, and then follow it up with the wacky, pop-influenced 4th. As with Vaughan Williams, each symphony has its own very distinctive profile.
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Re: sir Malcolm Arnold
« Reply #75 on: April 16, 2011, 11:46:33 PM »
I generally think that the odd numbered symphonies are the best ones - but I have increasingly come to appreciate No 6 - a disturbing work.

I really like this CD:

« Last Edit: April 16, 2011, 11:55:57 PM by vandermolen »
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DavidW

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Re: sir Malcolm Arnold
« Reply #76 on: April 17, 2011, 05:42:34 AM »
Same for me - it's been a while. I did listen to the 3rd Symphony recently, and it reminded me how great his range of expression was. He could write a solid piece of quasi-Sibelius like the 3rd, and then follow it up with the wacky, pop-influenced 4th. As with Vaughan Williams, each symphony has its own very distinctive profile.

I thought I was the only one that liked the 3rd and 4th!

Offline Archaic Torso of Apollo

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Re: sir Malcolm Arnold
« Reply #77 on: April 17, 2011, 06:11:06 AM »
I thought I was the only one that liked the 3rd and 4th!

You are not alone after all! I like 'em both, although neither is my favorite. However, the ghostly little palindromic scherzo of the 4th might be my single favorite mvt. in the Arnold symphonies. An exquisite piece of musical clockwork.
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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: sir Malcolm Arnold
« Reply #78 on: April 17, 2011, 06:28:58 AM »
You are not alone after all! I like 'em both, although neither is my favorite. However, the ghostly little palindromic scherzo of the 4th might be my single favorite mvt. in the Arnold symphonies. An exquisite piece of musical clockwork.

I like them both as well. I listened to them again last night. I need to listen to the Penny recordings as I haven't even opened them up yet (I've owned them for a few years), which means I haven't even heard the 7th, 8th, and 9th symphonies. This will change today!
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Offline Lethevich

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Re: sir Malcolm Arnold
« Reply #79 on: April 17, 2011, 06:52:12 AM »
I find that pompous march towards the end of the finale of the 4th always provokes an involunteraly grin, reminds me of a popular tune I cannot put my finger on.
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