'Ombra mai fu' George Frideric Handel
Brilliant performances bring out the best from Arnold's very British musical sensibility perfectly
Repertoire: Cello Concerto; Symphony for Strings; Fantasy for Recorder; Saxophone Concerto; Concertino for Flute and Strings
Artists: Raphael Wallfisch (vlc), Esther Ingham (fl), John Turner (rec), Northern CO, Manchester Sinfonia/Nicholas Ward; Richard Howarth
The Music: Arnold’s music combines an intellectual enjoyment of musical form with intense, often very lyrical expression. In fact, it’s sometimes so melodic and personal-sounding that you can get halfway through a movement before it dawning on you that the music isn’t strictly tonal.
The Performance: It’s all great, but the highlights are two later works: the recording premiere of the Cello Concerto, and the phenomenal Fantasy for Recorder and String Quartet. The Northern Chamber Orchestra and the Manchester Sinfonia respectively deliver crisp, intelligent readings, supporting two stellar soloist performances. In the Cello Concerto, Wallfisch encapsulates Arnold’s peculiarly British musical sensibility brilliantly, giving us pithy severity one moment and personal, lyrical expansiveness the next. John Turner’s recorder performance is a virtuoso tour de force.
The Verdict: Great soloists and exciting ensembles performing an ear-grabbing programme of fabulous 20th-century British music.
Why You’ll Love This
■ Ancient And Modern
Arnold plundered the textures and forms of early music and reinterpreted them. These works exemplify this with their paired down orchestral forces and employment of forms such as the Fantasy.