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Arnell: Concertino for Piano and Chamber Orchestra etc

Sergey Levitin (violin), Aleksei Kiseliov (cello), Victor Sangiorgio (piano); English Chamber Orchestra/Martin Yates (Dutton Epoch)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Arnell
Concertino for Piano and Chamber Orchestra; Canzona and Capriccio*; Divertimento No. 1†; Symphony for Strings; Divertimento Concertante**
*Sergey Levitin (violin), **Aleksei Kiseliov (cello), †Victor Sangiorgio (piano); English Chamber Orchestra/Martin Yates
Dutton CDLX 7400 (CD/SACD)   81:46 mins

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Richard Arnell (1917-2009) played a useful role in many branches of music and the cinema. This album of premiere recordings spans his time as a student at the Royal College, as a popular denizen of New York’s Greenwich Village and as professor of composition at Trinity College of Music.

Arnell recalled that for his student self in 1939 ‘symphonies were archaic. Orchestral works should be short, preferably in one movement’. So it’s ironic that the most successful piece here is his Symphony for Strings, a sinewy, three-movement work written in that self-same year. The opening Allegro moderato evokes neo-classical Stravinsky, while the ‘Intermezzo’ is a lovely exercise in sustained lyrical beauty, and the concluding Andante maestoso has compellingly powerful drive.

Everything on this recording has an engaging freshness – particularly the piano writing – and the orchestrations are tightly-woven tapestries of sound and texture; the piano, violin and cello soloists are all outstanding.

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Michael Church