Arnold: Violin Sonata No. 1; Violin Sonata No. 2; Piano Trio, Op. 54; Fantasy for Cello; Five Pieces for Violin & Piano

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COMPOSERS: Arnold
LABELS: Naxos
WORKS: Violin Sonata No. 1; Violin Sonata No. 2; Piano Trio, Op. 54; Fantasy for Cello; Five Pieces for Violin & Piano
PERFORMER: English Piano Trio
CATALOGUE NO: 8.554237
A composer who writes as colourfully for the orchestra as Malcolm Arnold clearly has the closest understanding of the possibilities offered by individual instruments. His chamber music, though much less well known, confirms the same point while placing a stronger focus on the musical structures themselves.

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With the exception of the attractive Five Pieces (1964), written ‘primarily as encore pieces’ for Yehudi Menuhin, the music on this disc is serious in tone. The slow movement of the Piano Trio (1954) is among the most deeply felt music Arnold ever composed, and the English Piano Trio does it full justice.

The two sonatas (1947 and 1953) eloquently confirm the lyrical nature of the violin. The Second is a concentrated single-movement construction; few would recognise Arnold as the composer of this intense music. But that is the point: his range is wider than generally acknowledged.

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Arnold always claimed that ‘to be asked by a performer whose accomplishment one admires is the greatest incentive to write music’. The seven-movement Fantasy for cello, one of his most recent works, was written for Julian Lloyd Webber. Justin Pearson’s eloquent performance is supported, like the other works recorded here, by atmospheric and warm sound. Terry Barfoot