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Cello Concerto, Op 136; Concertino for Flute and Strings, Op 19a; Fantasy for Recorder and String Quartet, Op 140; Saxophone Concerto; Symphony for Strings, Op 13
Raphael Wallfisch (cello); Esther Ingham (flute); John Turner (recorder)
Carl Raven (saxophone)
Northern Chamber Orchestra / conductor Nicholas Ward;
Manchester Sinfonia / conductor Richard Howarth
Naxos  8572640

Gramophone Magazine, November 2011 – Andrew Achenbach
‘Manchester gets to grips with concertante Arnold. Two meaty offerings from opposite ends of Sir Malcolm Arnold’s career top and tail this stimulating Naxos anthology. Composer and producer David Ellis put together the present performing edition of the Cello Concertothat Arnold penned for Julian Lloyd Webber in 1988; furthermore, Raphael Wallfisch has subtly tweaked the cello part. Following the concerto’s RFH premiere, rumours abounded that the manuscript was incomplete, so disconcertingly bare was the orchestration and strangely subdued the solo writing. Now it emerges as an attractively clean-cut, formidably concentrated offering; the rhythmically pert out movements are by no means lacking in lyrical impulse and act as an effective foil to the unnervingly bleak central Lento (whose growling double basses at the outset put me in mind of the opening of Sibelius’s Fourth Symphony). Completed in 1946, the Symphony for Strings comprises another tautly argued, three-movement creation, its irrepressible drive and razor-sharp resourcefulness anticipating the first of Arnold’s nine numbered symphonies from 1949.

Ellis also plays a key role in all three remaining items. The Concertino for Flute and Strings is a highly effective reworking of the endearing Op 19 Sonatina for Flute and Piano (composed for Richard Adeney in 1948), while the Saxophone Concerto cleverly overhauls a sparky Piano Sonata from 1942 (the next year brought the delectable Three Shanties for wind quintet, one of Arnold’s first hits). Ellis devised, too, the new edition of the 1990 Fantasy for Recorder and String Quartet (conceived for the brilliant Dutch virtuoso Michala Petri).

The performances span a period of some five years (and emanate from no fewer than four different venues) but are never less than expert and thoroughly dedicated. No true Arnold enthusiast will want to miss this valuable release.’



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