ARNOLD: Symphony No. 1, Op. 22.
Symphony no 5, Op. 74. Concerto for 2 pianos, 3 hands & orchestra,
Op. 104. Carnival of Animals, Op. 72.
Symphony No. 2, Op. 40.
Symphony No. 3, Op. 63 Symphony No. 4, Op. 71. Symphony No. 6, Op. 95. Fantasy
on a theme of John Field, Op. 116.
If you love music of Malcolm Atnold you must get this terrific new Sony reissue. It contains all recordings of his music made for the Conifer label many years ago. All of these were praised on their initial release, and now here they are beautifully remastered and at a super bargain price. Conifer disks and CDs were premium priced. Now it is possible to get them all at give-away price. Vernon Handley conducts the symphonies and many other works; other conductors are Elgar Howarth and Mark Stephenson, with outstanding British soloists where required. Sir Malcolm conducts only one work, Padstow Lifeboat.
Fortunately there are many other fine recordings of Arnold's music. While Handley's recordings of the symphonies are commendable, my favorites remain the Chandos set with Richard Hickoxs and Rumon Gamba. Don't overlook the Reference Recordings set with Jerry Junkin, a true sonic spectacle. Sir Malcolm did record many of the works included in the new conifer set. The CD of overtures on Reference Recordings is essential, as is the Lyrita CD that includes all of the Dances ad well as the Sarabande and Polka from Solitaire. The latter is of particular interest to me. The Polka is a dazzling piece of orchestral wit, punctuated at several points by a whack on the bass drum. It surely is heard resoundingly on Sir Malcolm's recording, but it is omitted on Bryden Thomson's Chandos recording. I had the privilege of spending some time with Sir Malcolm some years ago when he was in the area for the American premiere of his Symphonyh No. 9 (see FEATURE). I asked him about this bass drum note and he said simply, "It's in the score!!" I cannot imagine why Thomson left it out.
\At any rate, this is a terrific reissue essential in any collection;
R.E.B. (July 2016)