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MALCOLM ARNOLD Orchestral Music

Cello Concerto / Symphony for Strings / Fantasy etc

Wallfisch, Turner, Northern Chamber Orchestra, Manchester Sinfonia, Ward, Howarth

Naxos 8.572640

A marvellous "pendant" to the numbered Symphonies, these concertante works, brought together with the early string symphony, span Arnold's Op 13 (1946) to Op 140 (1990).

Unlike so many composers of today, who are preoccupied with literary & visual "handles" to promote their scores, music appealed to Malcolm Arnold "chiefly because of its abstract quality".

This compilation of recordings made separately 2003-2011 is wholly successful and its traversal a delight. Whilst the flute and saxophone concertos are on the light side, there is plenty of "meat" in the symphony and cello concerto, both of which deserve regular airings in "the repertoire" - nowadays that means mostly for smaller outfits or college ensembles to take them up, as they don't fit easily into current marketing strategies.

The Fantasy for recorder(s) and string quartet is important - five movements for four sizes of the instrument, tackled persuasively by John Turner.

It is mind boggling to imagine what were the collective costs of achieving all these studio recordings, a figure which bears no relation to the excellent production as another Naxos bargain, with good notes by Paul Harris and biogs + photos of nearly all the key participants.

Go buy!

Peter Grahame Woolf