Malcolm Arnold: Symphony No. 8

Malcolm Arnold Symphony No.7
Symphony No.8 (1978) Op. 124
Allegro 11:21
Andantino 07:54
Vivace 06:36

"... even more unsettling in tone than its predecessor. ... ...Irish marching tune of the opening movement, a rare instance of Arnold re-using earlier material; in this case, from the score to Jack Gold's 1969 film The Reckoning.
The composer had lived in the Irish Republic since the mid-1970s, and the oddly distorted character of this music suggests a parallel between the troubled history of the Irish people, and his personal circumstances at the time - soon to collapse into a seven-year period of virtual musical silence." (From the sleeve notes by Richard Whitehouse).

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

Malcolm Arnold: Symphony No. 9

symph-9
Symphony No.9 Op. 128
Vivace 11:43
Allegretto 07:09
Giubiloso 10:10
Lento 08:09

"In 1992, in Studio 7 at BBC Manchester, the BBC Philharmonic gave the first performance of the Symphony No.9, Opus 128, by Sir Malcolm Arnold.
Ever since Beethoven, writing a Ninth Symphony has been for a composer something akin to climbing Mount Everest - the summation of a lifetime's achievement. One of the most disturbing features of the Ninth for performers and critics alike is the amount of straightforward (or sometimes not so straightforward) repetition in the symphony, and there is also much unison writing for the instruments.
The second movement is memorable: a gentle, pastoral-like Allegretto in nine-eight time, with much of the writing in just two or three parts, and based on a haunting melancholy tune that resembles a folk- like carol.

The third movement is a noisy two-four piece marked giubiloso and not unlike many another breezy Arnold scherzo, with much prominent and tricky writing for the wind, particularly the brass, and full of characteristic Arnold clashes and dissonances within a tonal context.
... finale ... almost as long as the other three movements put together... a huge Adagio slow movement... movement is bleak and intense, spare and grief-stricken; like a gigantic funeral march it forsakes dramatic contrasts for the sake of an unbroken continuity of atmosphere: until the final bars, that is, which form a radiant resolution on to D major. Without that chord, the surrender to nihilism and despair would be total." (From the sleeve notes by Piers Burton-Page).

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

Do you like classical music?

In this video conductor Benjamin Zander uses Chopin to show an audience how easy it is to relate to classical music.

The conventional wisdom has it that only about 3% of the general public are really passionate about classical music and therefore likely to attend concerts. Zander shows this to be a total misapprehension of reality.

In fact most people already relate to classical music - they just don't know it yet!

John Williams plays Bach - a role model for musical guitar playing

John Williams - guitarist
John Williams - guitarist

Not content with the literature available for Guitar (although he has recorded a good portion of it!) John Williams has vigorously pursued transcriptions and arrangements as a means of allowing guitar to participate in the wider musical community.

"The whole point of Chamber Music is it's accessibility, and any student string player would be able to read a dozen Mozart or Haydn quartets before deciding which one to learn". - JOHN WILLIAMS

Lute Suite No. 1 in E Minor, BVW 996: I. Passaggio - Presto

He has strongly advocated guitarists playing chamber music parts - and just playing the single note string parts of these works in an ensemble.

His recordings of the Bach ideal for students to hear as they contain unaffected and rhythmically accurate but musically virile renderings .

I refer to these Bach recordings as a role model of musical guitar playing.

  • Suite BWV 996, E Minor: I Präludium; Presto
  • Suite BWV 996, E Minor: II Allemande
  • Suite BWV 996, E Minor: III Courante
  • Suite BWV 996, E Minor: IV (Sarabande)
  • Suite BWV 996, E Minor: V Bourrée
  • Suite BWV 996, E Minor: VI (Gigue)
  • Suite BWV 997, A Minor (Orig. C Minor): I Präludium
  • Suite BWV 997, A Minor (Orig. C Minor): II Sarabande
  • Suite BWV 997, A Minor (Orig. C Minor): III Gigue-Double
  • Suite BWV 1006a, E Major: I Präludium
  • Suite BWV 1006a, E Major: II Loure
  • Suite BWV 1006a, E Major: III Gavotte en Rondeau
  • Suite BWV 1006a, E Major: IV Menuetts I and II
  • Suite BWV 1006a, E Major: V Bourée
  • Suite BWV 1006a, E Major: VI Gigue
  • Suite BWV 995, A Minor (Orig. G Minor): I Präludium; Presto
  • Suite BWV 995, A Minor (Orig. G Minor): II Allemande
  • Suite BWV 995, A Minor (Orig. G Minor): III Courante
  • Suite BWV 995, A Minor (Orig. G Minor): IV Sarabande
  • Suite BWV 995, A Minor (Orig. G Minor): V Gavottes I and II
  • Suite BWV 995, A Minor (Orig. G Minor): VI Gigue

Paul Hart Guitar Concerto

My interest in John Williams as a guitarist peaked considerably when I was given his recording with Paul Hart and the National Youth Jazz Orchestra.

John Williams plays the Paul Hart Concerto with the National Youth Jazz Orchestra.

The work is in the Jazz-Latin-Fusion genre popularised in the 1980's by Chick Corea.

What amazed me about Williams' performance here was his rendering of the style. He doesn't just get the notes... he nails them. Playing with a drummer in this style of music requires a very specific kind of rhythmic placement and Williams has it.

And despite his protestations to the contrary he even seems to be improvising in a fiery country / bluegrass exchange with fiddle.

Williams has always championed the versatility of Guitar as one of it's main strengths. He says rightly that it can be found in most styles of music and that its repertoire is in fact one of the largest of all instruments once you look beyond the classical repertoire.