Saturday, 18 July 2015

Malcolm Arnold: Divertimento No. 2 op. 75 Part 2 –The Reviews of the Recordings

Records and Recording (March 1968) reported that ‘Arnold's Divertimento is, as one would expect, tremendous fun. It is also an exciting challenge to the youngsters' skill. The Nocturne takes a naughty side-swipe at Bartok at his most nocturnal while the hilarious finale is constructed, of all things, on a solemn ground bass. Pray silence, ladies and gentlemen, while we listen to Purcell spinning in his grave!’ Less enthusiastically, T.H. in The Gramophone (March 1968) simply noted that Arnold’s ‘attractive Divertimento’ was ‘expertly played’ by the orchestra.
In 1999 the Classico label released a CD of music by Malcolm Arnold. The Munich Symphony Orchestra was conducted by Douglas Bostock. The disc included the Symphony No. 5, the world premieres of The Belles of St Trinians Suite and the Symphonic Study: Machines. The Divertimento and the Sarabande and Polka from the ballet score Solitaire completed this attractive and interesting programme.
Reviewing the Classico CD, Ivan March in the June 2000 edition of The Gramophone notes that the Divertimento is ‘a splendidly characterful triptych with a spirited ‘Chaconne’ for its finale...’ The critics on MusicWeb International were much more fulsome in their praise of the work.  Rob Barnett (MusicWeb International, April 2000) suggested that the Divertimento was ‘…at first brazenly Waltonian.’  He pointed out that ‘Walton and Arnold were good friends and the interplay between their music is a source of much interest.’ Interestingly he suggests that the Nocturne is ‘a rather doom-weighted essay in this setting…’ and wondered if it was played to ‘an audience of ‘‘innocent ears’…how many would recognise it as Arnold?’ He concludes his examination of this work by noting that the final Chaconne ‘glances sideways at Britten's Purcell Variations and Arnold's own 1940s film music with a touch of 1950s dancehall glitter and a brief appearance from boozy Tam [o’Shanter]!’
Hubert Culot (MusicWeb International June 2000) noted that the Divertimento ‘is vintage lighter Arnold and is comparable to the Little Suites - a short piece in three contrasted movements, i.e. a brilliant Fanfare, a poetic Nocturne and an exuberant Chaconne.’ 

Arnold, Malcolm, Divertimento No.2, op.75 with works by Michael Tippett, Alan Ridout and William Mathias, Leicestershire Schools Orchestra/Pinkett (Arnold), LP. Pye Golden Guinea GSGC 4103 (Mono) GSGC 14103 (Stereo) (1967). These have been reissued as ‘downloads’ from Klassic Haus Restorations.

Arnold, Malcolm, Divertimento No.2, op.75, Symphony No.5, op.74, Symphonic Study: Machines, Sarabande and Polka (from Solitaire), The Belles of St Trinians, comedy suite (Exploits for orchestra), Munich Symphony Orchestra/Douglas Bostock Classico CLASSCD 294 (1999). 

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