Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Malcolm Arnold, Andrew Penny, Queensland Symphony Orchestra|
Sir Malcolm Arnold: Dances
Genres: Dance & Electronic, Classical
Listen to Samples
Blazing English Dances
Brett A. Kniess | Madison, WI | 07/03/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Malcolm Arnold, famous for his film music (Bridge on the River Kwai), symphonies (many available on the Chandos label), and overtures, is here represented in a very entertaining series of Dances; composed between English Dances Set I in 1950 and the Welsh Dances in the past decade or so, spanning Opus' 27 to 138.
In many of Arnolds' symphonies, he uses many sounds evocative of Mahler and Sibelius, often brooding, creating expansive landscapes with little program associated with the music. With this series of dances, you will find nothing of that. The dances might most closely be associated with a Holst Suite or the Vaughan Williams Folk Song Suite, etc., but that would be doing these works an injustice. Each set is filled with musical pictures of each country they represent.
Each set of Dances follows the form of 1. Fast Movement 2. Scherzo-esque movement 3. Slow Movement featuring a lonely solo wind instrument on melody taken up by the sweeping strings later and 4. Fast Movement.
The outside movements are all gloriously vivacious. They often feature bubbling woodwind sections, tight fast moving brass acclamations, extremely high horn rips, rousing melodies and climaxes to get the blood boiling. These outer movements are truly exhilarating. The scherzo movements are very playful, usually featuring the interplay between woodwinds and strings. The slow movements are among some of the most beautiful written. Obviously taken from folk-song sources, these gorgeous melodies and orchestrations remind one of Grainger and Vaughan Williams.
This CD alone could be bought just for English dances I & II and the Scottish dances (which has the jaw-dropping sixteenth-note triple-toungings and ear-crunching horn-rips). Andrew Penny along with the Queensland Symphony blast through this music, creating a great English atmosphere along with edge-of-your-seat performances. All in all, this recording is great fun and great light British music. Do not hesitate to try this CD, one of the only complete sets of Arnold Dances (check out Chandos at full price) at a great price!"
Likeable performances with recording flaws
Hugh Oliver | Provo, UT | 07/14/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Andrew Penny's recordings of Arnold Symphonies 1-9 are superb and I give them all five stars. This performance of the Dances doesn't rate as highly because the Queensland Symphony does not play with the precision or personality of Penny's Irish group. The Four Scottish Dances are an example: The trumpets struggle to articulate in movement 1 ; the bassoonist is cold sober in 2 (don't know if this was Penny's decision or if he just let it get by), and the oboe playing is not in the same league as the fine work on Penny's Irish Orchestra CDs. Solo work throughout the Queensland recording has an anonymity which is more typical of good college players who don't or can't reveal themselves in their playing,and are unable to contribute the kind of artistry which merges with the composition to add to the overall impact.
Recording quality, at least on my system, sounds treble-heavy with middle voices and basses seriously shortchanged. I know my components have their limits but I hear no such problems on Penny's National Orchestra of Ireland recordings. Bryden Thomson's Chandos CD of the Dances has detail missing from the Queensland Dances and has much better overall sound.
A main reason to get this CD of the Dances is the inclusion of the Four Welsh Dances, which are not on Thomson's recording. The Welsh Dances present a more pessimistic and somber Arnold; they're a fine work.
In summary, get Penny for Arnold's Symphonies and get Thomson for all Dances except the Welsh."