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Clarinet Sonata, Op 29
Ronald van Spaendonck (clarinet) Eliane Reyes (piano)
Fuga Libera FUG558
Gramophone Magazine, May 2010Edward Greenfield
Ronald van Spaendonck has here collected a most attractive group of sonatinas for clarinet and piano, a genre that prompts composers to write light music exploiting the full range of the instrument. The three-movement Arnold ‘Sonatina’, written in 1951, early in his career, is full of fun in the outer movements with an attractively lyrical slow movement .
… superbly played and brilliantly recorded.

Malcolm Arnold: Ballet Music – Chandos
Homage to the Queen Suite Op 42; Rinaldo & Armida Op 49; Sweeney Todd Suite Op 68a; Electra Op 79

BBC Philharmonic, conductor Rumon Gamba
CHAN10550
Gramophone Magazine, December 2009 – Andrew Achenbach (+ Editor’s Choice)
‘Malcolm Arnold’s great ballet scores championed with heart-warming commitment.
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Musical Opinion, November/December 2009 – Robert Matthew-Walker
‘This valuable addition to the Arnold discography includes several works new to disc. … I have been especially struck by the concentrated, intensely dramatic, ‘Electra’ music. ‘Sweeney Todd’ made a deep impression at its premiere 50 years ago, and does so again in this most excellent performance. Indeed, throughout this exceptionally well recorded CD I have been consistently taken by the quality of Gamba’s conducting and by the orchestral playing, the musicians clearly relishing this powerful and highly individual music.’
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International Record Review, November 2009 – Peter Marchbank
‘This welcome disc from the BBC Philharmonic and Rumon Gamba brings together for the first time four of [Arnold’s] ballet scores from the 1950s and 1960s, when the composer was at the height of his powers.
… they play these works with great passion and verve and make this a disc that every lover of Arnold’s music will want to own. The sound quality is excellent and there is an informative note in the booklet.’ Read More

The Daily Telegraph, 24 October 2009 – Geoffrey Norris
‘If largely neglected in recent times, Sir Malcolm Arnold’s ballets Homage to the Queen, Rinaldo & Armida and Electra were staged at the Royal Opera House, and Sweeney Todd at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre. Hearing this tender exuberant music, one can be thankful that it has come to the attention of the BBC Phgilharmonic, which plays it with affection and panache.

 


The Malcolm Arnold Edition - Decca
Decca 476 5337 (5 discs)/ 4765343 (4 discs)/ 476 5348  (4 discs)

BBC Music Magazine, December 2006 – Andrew McGregor:‘… a fitting tribute to his life and work’.
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Classic FM Magazine, November 2006 – Jeremy Nicholas: ‘Magnificent Malcolm – Decca celebrates the composer’s 85th birthday with the superb Malcolm Arnold Edition.  Wow! Sixty-one works on 13 CDs in three box sets. This is the way to celebrate the 85th birthday of Britain’s greatest living composer …’ Read More

MusicWeb-International.com , November 2006 - Rob Barnett:
‘…If you are at all interested in Arnold’s music these are recordings you will want to have …returning to the shelves the splendid 1990s Conifer recordings made by the label’s former Director of Artists and Repertoire John Kehoe. It’s all the more remarkable that this is done at bargain price.

The notes in the Decca boxes are by John Kehoe, Anthony Meredith and Paul Harris. They are very compressed though they certainly tackle the essentials. They do so with the authority of the mastermind of the Conifer project and the two authors who have charted the deeply-scored triumphs and tragedies of Arnold’s life.

… a stunning achievement. The Edition is the largest-ever collection of Arnold’s concert music, with 61 works spread across three volumes and 13 discs. It’s a resounding triumph for Decca Universal.

The three sets comprise: vol. 1 5CDs 476 5337: The Eleven Symphonies (that’s all but comprehensive – the nine numbered symphonies conducted by Vernon Handley plus the Symphony for Brass and the Symphony for Strings) vol. 2 4CDs 476 5343: Seventeen Concertos; vol. 3 4CDs 476 5348: orchestral, brass and piano music.

For all that this Decca Universal set is a reissue project, the music has an incontestably matchless sweep. This box is indispensable to anyone with an interest in the twentieth century symphony. These works merit comparison with those of Sibelius, Shostakovich and Pettersson …awesome in their command of emotion from delight to terror.

Malcolm Arnold, the 9 symphonies - Chandos
LSO/Richard Hickox
BBC Philharmonic Orchestra/ Rumon Gamba
CHAN9335/ 9290/ 9290/ 9385/ 9385/ 9967


BBC Music Magazine: ‘Few composers write more brilliantly and colourfully for the orchestra than Malcolm Arnold. These … symphonies show him at the peak of his powers, with cogent musical development of material which is always strongly characterised.
And the Hickox-LSO partnership is triumphant too, for these are splendid performances of music which deserves a much wider currency.’


The Sunday Times: ‘Records of the Year’: ‘Symphonies are brought off impressively … ‘

Gramophone Magazine: ‘…electrifying performances’

American Record Guide: ‘The BBC Philharmonic plays splendidly for him and clearly enjoys the music. The Chandos recording is one of its finest. The notes are very thorough.’

Fanfare (USA): ‘… musically valid and convincing as well as emotionally rewarding, this Chandos disc should be part of any self-respecting collection of the 20th-century Engish Music. Hear! Hear!’

Fanfare (USA): ‘Rumon Gamba and the BBC Philharmonic plow through these with elan and confidence, producing consistent solidity of tone and unerring precision of ensemble. Chandos’ sound is admirably blended and highly sensitive to textural values.’

Classicalcdreview.com 2002 - REB: ‘With this superb set Chandos completes its set of symphonies of Sir Malcolm Arnold started in the mid '90s with the first six played by the London Symphony under Richard Hickox. The young conductor Rumon Gamba was chosen for the remaining three. Gamba  (is he related to Pierino Gamba?) turns out to be an ideal choice for the project, already having to his credit several recordings of film music including one devoted to music of Sir Malcolm.
These are outstanding performances in every way. Gamba obviously totally understands the Arnold idiom. The final symphonies are the composer's most challenging for both performers and listeners.’


Classicalcdreview.com, July 2005 – REB: ‘Richard Hickox started recording Arnold's symphonies  with the London Symphony Orchestra in 1993, recording the first six for the label, stunning  performances  beautifully  recorded.  The final three were recorded for the label by the BBC Philharmonic conducted by Rumon Gamba, equally successfully..
… make no mistake: Arnold's Third is a great symphony, as great a symphony as has ever been composed by an Englishman, and Hickox and the L.S.O. revel in its greatness.’


James Leonard All Music Guide: ‘Want more proof that Malcolm Arnold is a great symphonist? Try this disc of Arnold's Fifth and Sixth symphonies by Richard Hickox and the London Symphony Orchestra. They are tightly argued, wonderfully lyrical, brilliantly colored, and utterly individualistic examples of English symphonism at its best.’

Malcolm Arnold: Complete Symphonies - Naxos
National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, conductor Andrew Penny
Naxos 8.553406; 8.553739; 8.552000; 8.552001; 80553540


Gramophone Magazine, January 2002 – Andrew Achenbach: ‘Penny brings a clear headed perception to Sir Malcolm Arnold's uniquely rewarding symphonic odyssey.’

Gramophone Magazine, August 2009 – Edward Greenfield: ‘Sir Malcolm Arnold's Naxos symphony cycle comes to a triumphant end with a searing coupling [Symphonies 7 & 8] on the eve of the composer's 80th birthday … an invaluable cycle.’

ArchivMusic.Com - David Hurwitz: ‘In sum, this disc (Symphonies 7 & 8 - 8.552001) caps an important and very impressive musical achievement for Penny, his orchestra, and Naxos, and represents a fine tribute to a major 20th century symphonist.’

ClassicsToday.Com: Rating – 10/10

Classical Net Review, 2002 – Robert Cummings: ‘…Andrew Penny leads these symphonies with authority and a sense for Arnold's darker side. Highly recommended!

Bright Jewels music from the 1940's and 1950's -  Maestro Sound & Vision
Maestro Sound & Vision: MSV0214CD
 
Concert Piece for Percussion & Piano; Beauty Haunts the Woods; John Clare Cantata; English Dances set 2 arr. Reizenstein piano due; Divertimento for Wind Trio; The Peacock in the Zoo; Piano Pieces Vol. 2; Purple Dust; Ragtime; Scherzetto; 2 Sketches for Oboe & Piano; Sonatina for Clarinet and Piano;  Sonatina for Recorder and Piano; Solitaire arr. recorder and piano; Suite Bourgeoise
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String Quartets Nos 1 & 2; Phantasy (Vita Abundans) - Naxos
Maggini Quartet
Naxos 8.557762


BBC Music Magazine
, May 2007 – Martin Cotton:‘[String Quartet 1] shares with the later Bartock quartets an economy of means this is lean music with no wasted notes, and it’s strikingly performed, with concentration in the playing and detail in the recording.’
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Beckus the Dandipratt; Symphony No 6; The Inn of the Sixth Happiness Philharmonic Concerto/Flourish for a 21st birthday – LPO LIVE
London Philharmonic Orchestra, conductor Vernon Handley
LPO Live - LPO0013


Classic FM Magazine, November 2006 – Nick Bailey: ‘… Vernon Handley has been a champion of Arnold’s music for many years and his dedication shows.’ Read More
Gramophone Magazine Awards 2006 - Ivan March: “These live performances are very committed, and Handley’s skill in sustaining atmosphere and holding elusive structures together is heard at its finest. Excellently balanced sound, too.’
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The Return of Odysseus (premiere recording) – Divine Art
City of Glasgow Chorus, Orchestra of Scottish Opera, conductor Graham Taylor
Divine Art CD 25035


Gramophone Magazine, July 2006 – Andrew Achenbach: ‘… the music radiates a healthy, unaffected vigour, and there's plenty of catchy, dramatic and touching inspiration along the way …a lively, spirited account of this enjoyable discovery.’ Read More

MusicWeb – Paul Serotsky: ‘I applaud Divine Art for this valuable contribution to the Arnold discography: Odysseus is indeed returned – to its proper place, before the music-loving public. Make no mistake, overall this is a sterling performance by Graham Taylor and his Glasgow cohorts. They sound as though they enjoyed themselves hugely whilst making the CD. I’m having just as much fun listening to it – and so should you.’
The Glasgow Herald – Michael Tumelty : ‘… It’s a fun piece, drenched in seascapes. …Graham Taylor gets the best out of his Glasgow Chorus, who rise to the occasion with a knock-out climax to the piece – a typically Arnold radiant sunburst of sound.’
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Classic FM Magazine, June 2006 – Nick Bailey: ‘I am amazed that this is the first recording of Arnold's ‘Return of Odysseus’, as it's highly listenable … a masterly simplification of Homer's Odyssey.’ Read More
The Culture Magazine, CD of the Month - Thomas Hall: ‘… Compressing the ancient Greek epic into half an hour, writer Patric Dickinson gives Arnold the means to create a purposeful note-to-a-word narrative flow, carried by his typically vivid scoring.’
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Chamber Music for Winds - Naxos
East Winds
Naxos 8.570294


Gramophone Magazine, August 2007 – Edward Greenfield: ‘The East Winds blow in with a delightful Arnold selection. As a professional player, leader of the trumpet section in the LPO early in his career, Sir Malcolm Arnold was an enthusiastic composer of wind music. East Winds, made up of talented young players, here give brilliant performances which consistently bring out the wit of the writing. Even if this doesn't evolve into a series covering all of Arnold's wind music (as three Hyperion discs from the Nash Ensemble do), this is a well chosen and wide-ranging selection that makes a delightful sequence.’

Music-Web International, May 2007 – Michael Cookson: “The five musicians of East Winds together with their guest players perform Arnold’s wind chamber music with fine accomplishment throughout. It is hard to find fault with these fresh and engaging interpretations that have the spontaneous feel of a live performance. The timbre of the instruments is very well captured by the Naxos engineers with only the barest amount of fierceness from the horn. Those looking for a recording of Arnold’s wind chamber music have no need to look elsewhere.’

Symphony for Brass, Op 123a. Little Suites-No 1, Op 80; No 2, Op 93; No 3, Op 131. Brass Quintets No 1, Op 73; No 2, Op 132. Fantasy, Op 88. Fanfare for Louis. Three Fantasies-Op 100; Op 101; Op 102 - Nimbus
Fine Arts Brass Ensemble
Nimbus NI5804


Gramophone Magazine, February 2007 – Andrew Achenbach: “A cracking anthology of Arnold's complete works for brass.
These immaculately prepared, fervent performances have been vividly and spaciously captured by the Nimbus production crew, making this a genuine tonic for Arnoldians and brass-heads alike.”

The Three Musketeers - Quartz
Northern Ballet Theatre Orchestra , conductor John Piyce-Jones
Quartz (D QTZ2056 (80' • DDD)

Gramophone Magazine, September 2007 Edward Greenfield: ‘Ironically, it was on the day Sir Malcolm Arnold died that this full-length ballet, drawn from a dazzling range of his works, was premiered at the Alhambra Theatre, Bradford. Years before Arnold had toyed with the idea of writing a ballet on the colourful subject, even writing a few sketches. Yet his fragile health prevented him from progressing and it was John Longstaff, prompted by choreographer David Nixon, who with the composer's approval devised a sequence of pieces from Arnold's enormous catalogue, arranging them for the modest theatre orchestra of Northern Ballet. It works superbly, giving one an exciting conspectus on the work of one of the 20th century's most approachable composers.
…Having this dazzling sequence on disc is a joy, particularly in this lively performance conducted by John Pryce-Jones. A valuable addition to the Arnold repertory.’

PERFORMANCES

The Three Musketeers  (ballet)
World premiere: Northern Ballet Theatre, 23/09/2006
London premiere: Northern Ballet Theatre, 5/06/2007
Estonian premiere: Estonian National Ballet, 23/04/2009


Ballet.co Postings Page
, 5 June 2006 - Charlotte Kasner: ‘ … nothing could be more English than Malcolm Arnold's music, and the verve exhibited by every last member of the Company echoed the ballet-mania of the '40's and '50's when English ballet reigned supreme.’ Read More

The Daily Telegraph
, 27/09/2006 – Lyndesy Winship: ‘It is Arnold’s cinematic soundtrack that makes this ballet a sweeping drama …’

The Guardian
, 27/09/2006: ‘Handsome solos show off the Musketeers’ elegantly booted legs, spirited ensemble dances add local colour to washerwomen and courtiers, and there are a couple of exuberantly crafted pas de deux.’

The Sunday Times
, 01/10/2006 – David Dougil: ‘ … it’s good to report that [Arnold’s] music – lively, tuneful, fast-paced or romantic – drives the action and fits the bill with great success. And it is delightful to recognise the “English Dances” – even though we are supposed to be in 17th-century France.’

The Mail on Sunday
, 22/10/2006 – Rupert Christiansen: ‘… by dint of its sheer energy and lavish spectacle, ‘TheThree Musketeers’bubbles along. There’s a marvellously exuberant and tuneful score drawn from the music of Sir Malcolm Arnold (who sadly died aged 84 on the day of the premiere), backdrops by Charles Cusick Smith and costumes by David Nixon that would grace any West End stage. Some dazzling ball scenes and splendid duels contribute to the fun …’ Read More

London Evening Standard
, 06/06/2007 – Sarah Frater: ‘…sword fights that will knock socks off!’

Postimees
(Tallinn, Estonia) 29/04/2009 - Heili Einasto: ‘The plot develops and the characters change with kaleidoscopic speed. The choreography was varied and the main characters each have their choreographic “face” – perhaps the most memorable being Maksakov the daredevil, D’Artagnan the sincere lover, and Malinovskaya’s brave but humble Constance. Their love duet in the end of the first act was genuinely moving.
The robust washer women and the energetic Musketeers were a colourful contrast, as was the cunning “Milady” with her snakelike movements. At the premiere the whole Company gave entirely of their best, successfully handling the neck-breaking choreographic elements.”


MK-Estonia
(Tallinn, Estonia) 20/05/2009 – Yelena Skulskyja: ‘ …Constance (Olga Malinovskaya) and Lady Winter (Marina Chirkova) were a great success – the characters were sparkling and sophisticated. Marina Chirkova resembled a compressed spring, full of hatred and passion; Olga Malinovskaya was like a lyrical high note, ringing above the clanging of swords.
At one point in this ballet, the Musketeers will not let the beautiful washer women pass without notice – these dashing and original dance scenes are a big part of the production’s success.’

Dance Europe, (Tallinn, Estonia) December 2009 – Stuart Sweeney
‘…if you want buckles to be swashed, then The Three Musketeers fits the bill nicely, and this Estonian production of David Nixon’s ballet is deservedly a hit.’
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Homage to the Queen (ballet)
The Royal Ballet, Covent Garden 2006

The Observer, 11/06/2006 – Luke Jennings:‘A lush score by Malcolm Arnold.’ Read More

The Stage, 06/06/2006 – John Percival: ‘ … melodius, colourful score.’ Read More

The Times, 25/04/2008 - Debra Crane: ‘Homage to the Queen’ (2006) is a vibrant showcase for a quartet of choreographers and ballerinas representing the four elements. It’s based on the structure of Ashton’s original 1953 piece d’occasion (made to celebrate the Coronation) and is framed by his lavish entrée and apotheosis. Devotion to the monarchy is his theme, so republicans beware. But the variety of classical dancing on offer is good fun.
Leanne Benjamin and Fedrico Bonelli are suitably feisty in David Bintley’s ‘Earth’; the wondrous Miyako Yoshida makes a welcome guest appearance to lead Michael Corder’s shimmering and elegant ‘Water’; and Sarah Lamb is demonic and sexy in Christopher Wheeldon’s agitated ‘Fire’ … Malcolm Arnold’s score is rich in majesty and filled with colour. A pleasure to hear it again.’

Quintet for Brass, Op 73
20 May, 2006, Oxford Sinfonia; St Mary the Virgin Church, Oxford.

Oxford Times, 26/05/2006 – Giles Woodforde: ‘Early in his career, Northampton born Sir Malcolm Arnold captured the post of principal trumpet in the London Philharmonic Orchestra - just the right credentials for the composer of a brass quintet …the piece was played with commitment, and made me wonder, yet again, why Arnold's music isn't better known.’
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Symphony 4
Ealing Symphony Orchestra, conductor John Gibbons
St Barnabas Church, Pitshanger Lane, London – 10 October 2009

Musical Pointers.Co, 10/10/09 – Bob Briggs
It’s a fascinating and highly disturbing work which tonight received a performance of great stature and intelligence. Gibbons and his players felt every bar and played their hearts out – the brass section, especially, was superb, rich and rounded, and displayed a real menace when necessary. But the whole orchestra played as if possessed, indeed as if their very lives depended on it. The performance was pregnant with surprises – from the roof raising climaxes to the most delicate traceries of harp, celesta and flute.
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The Fourth Malcolm Arnold Festival
Flourish; Carnival of Animals; Symphony 4

Royal & Derngate, Northampton, 25 October, 2009
Gala Evening: the Malcolm Arnold Festival Overture, conductor John Gibbons

Musical Pointers.Co, 25/10/09 – Bob Briggs
Bringing the Fourth Malcolm Arnold Festival to a splendid conclusion John Gibbons directed a splendid show of less well known Arnold …
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Wind Quintet Op 4 – 8 April, 2010, Sherwell Centre, Plymouth
Piano Trio Op 54 – 9 April 2010, Saltash Wesley Church, Cornwall
Quintet Op 7 - 10 April, 2010, St Eustachius Church, Tavistock, Devon
The Arnold Camerata

Essentially English Chamber Music Festival

Philip R Buttall – www.whatsonsouthwest.co.uk
“It’s taken months of planning, but the opening recital in the three-night ‘Essentially English Chamber Music Festival’ was well worth all the hard work in preparation.

Sherwell Centre:

Introduced by Peninsula Arts Director, Simon Ible, it was immediately apparent that, while these young performers, under their Artistic Director, Richard Waters are still at various stages in their music-college training, they are already fully-fledged players, and more than capable of turning in performances of which many established professional ensembles would be proud. Malcolm Arnold’s quirky ‘Wind Quintet’ showed a deft skill in programming, with a performance arguably the evening’s highlight …

Saltash Wesley Church, Cornwall:

Saltash Wesley Methodist Church provided the perfect venue for the second event in the ‘Essentially English Chamber Music Festival’ by the Arnold Camerata. The somewhat more intimate setting proved ideal for this particular programme, which featured small, rather than large ensembles.
Malcolm Arnold’s Piano Trio was the ideal work …

St Eustachius Church:

[In] Arnold mixed Quintet … the supreme quality of these fine players was self-evident.
This also provided an ideal opportunity to commend the often unsung supporting players … who, along with the other members of the Arnold Camerata, Artistic Director, Richard Waters, and not forgetting the backstage crew, had produced such a wonderful musical feast over the last three evenings …” 
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