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Record Box

The Refiner's fire

Malcolm Arnold's symphonies

Naxos    8.552000

Sir Malcolm Arnold - Symphonies Nos 5 and 6 (p) 2001 HNH International Ltd


Malcolm Arnold the composer is mercurial, which accords with his habit of throwing disparate compositional elements into a refiner's fire. It is done with skill out of his long experience as an orchestral player and years as a composer generating a creative character that accords with the man. Somebody once said that Sir Malcolm resembles a musical version of Charles Dickens, which undoubtedly is as shrewd as you can get.

Symphony 5's first movement is a rugged example of the material  and development Arnold welds together with the skill and wry humour of a fine craftsman [listen -- track 1, 3:31-4:15].  The slow movement should drop a homage figure into your mind,  but lose no sleep if not [listen -- track 2, 0:00-0:55]. Now out into brilliant sun as the scherzo swaggers and snarls its defiance. In consequence the finale is extremely touchy and makes even more noise in herding the defiant mobsters captive before the big tune proclaims itself king, only to collapse as the orchestra extinguishes light and sound.

Malcolm Arnold's sixth symphony can, from its character, come from nobody but he. Again, it is the ebullient yet sensitive composer within Malcolm Arnold  speaking urgently and emotively of matters entrenched in the mind.  That he uses a wide range of techniques does not detract from the stylistic apparel  familiar to us.


Copyright © 4 July 2001 Basil Ramsey, Eastwood, Essex, UK







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Record Box is Music & Vision's regular Wednesday series of shorter CD reviews