Malcolm Arnold: Symphony No. 1

Malcolm Arnold's Symphony No.1, Op.22(1949)
Symphony No.1, Op.22(1949)
Allegro 11:58
Andantino 08:40
Vivace con fuoco 07:50

A "fantastic melding of pop music, celtic music and latin rhythms into the symphonic language."

... a mood that is often mysterious and even ominous... ... although there are interruptions from the brass and percussion, momentarily shattering the calm. ...transformation of the subject itself into a popular march, played by the piccolos. This lapse from the high seriousness of a symphony is repaired by the solemnity of the final metamorphosis of the theme... (From the sleeve notes by Piers Burton-Page).

Malcolm Arnold, the ground breaking British composer.
Malcolm Arnold, the ground breaking British composer.

Malcolm Arnold: Symphony No. 2

Malcolm Arnold's Symphony No.1, Op.22(1949)
Symphony No. 2, Op. 40

I: Allegretto 06:28
II: Vivace 04:27
III: Lento 09:55
IV: Allegro con brio 06:20

... opening theme, loudly proclaimed... ... a melancholy bassoon theme, accompanied by the sustained notes of the violins.... ends with a final Allegro con brio... leading to a dance-like melody for woodwind.... The stark secondary theme returns, in substance, before the last appearance of the dance and a majestic coda. (From the sleeve notes by Piers Burton-Page).

Malcolm Arnold, the ground breaking British composer.
Malcolm Arnold, the ground breaking British composer.

Malcolm Arnold: Symphony No. 3

Malcolm Arnold's Symphony No.3
Symphony No. 3, Op. 63

01. Allegro-Vivace 11:11
02. Lento 12:57
03. Allegro con brio-Presto 07:10

The [passacaglia] second movement, elegiac in character, is a set of [twenty] variations based on a series of chords more than a melodic theme. The [Haydnesque] last movement is based on three main themes and could be loosely described as a rondo." The Sibelian sub-plot of the work Arnold attributes to the telescoped structure of the first movement, and the presence of "a recurrent leitmotif" redolent of Sibelius's Fifth Symphony... (From the sleeve notes by Piers Burton-Page).

Malcolm Arnold, the ground breaking British composer.
Malcolm Arnold, the ground breaking British composer.

Malcolm Arnold: Symphony No. 4

Malcolm Arnold's Symphony No.4
Symphony No. 4, Op. 71

Allegro-Poco piu mosso-Tempo primo 13:05
Vivace ma non troppo 05:05
Andantino 11:38
Con fuoco-Alla marcia-Tempo primo-Maestoso-Allegro molto 07:59

"was also the year of the [London] Notting Hill race riots...
I was appalled that such a thing could happen in this country that racial ideas have become increasingly strong in this country dismays me even more.... I have used very obvious West Indian and African percussion instruments and rhythms, in the hope, first, that its sounds well, and second, that it might help to spread the idea of racial integration.

... first subject... Lydian mode. The conflict between the Lydian mode, with its sharpened sub-dominant [fourth], and a scale which has no name, but has a sharpened sub-dominant [Lydian lower tetrachord] and a flattened leading-note [Phrygian upper tetrachord - coincidentally the combined tempered pitches of the 64th Carnatic mela, "Vachaspati"], plays an important part in the development of the movement.

The second subject is in the major (Ionian) scale, and is accompanied by a rhythmic figure in 8/8 time where the quavers are divided into 3+2+3 (1--2-123...)

"... second movement is a scherzo which is more chromatic than is usual in my music, believing, as I do, that excessive chromaticism is the most devitalizing dead-end in the music of the last sixty years. This movement is not intended to arouse emotions that are necessarily pleasant.

... the eruptive alla marcia interlude just before the end of the finale he now reveals to be "the frustration of the artist. It's meant to be completely crazy - I hope it sounds crazy." (From the sleeve notes by Piers Burton-Page).

Malcolm Arnold, the ground breaking British composer.
Malcolm Arnold, the ground breaking British composer.

Malcolm Arnold: Symphony No. 5

Malcolm Arnold symphony No.5
Symphony No. 5, Op. 74

Tempestuoso 10:32
Andante con moto 10:54
Con fuoco 05:07
Risoluto 06:03

"... scherzo, marked Con fuoco, is one such as only Arnold could have carried off. The nagging opening gesture prefaces a series of nonchalant motifs over a walking bass-line, merging into an aggressive fugato texture, and falling away just as quickly.

The trio is a telling incorporation of 1950s pop music into the symphonic argument, given substance by the constantly changing rhythm and instrumentation. The scherzo resumes its wayward course, only to be interrupted by a raucous brass outburst, driving the movement to a hectic conclusion.

...a brilliantly successful study in aspiration and failure. (From the sleeve notes by Piers Burton-Page).

Malcolm Arnold, the ground breaking British composer.
Malcolm Arnold, the ground breaking British composer.