Arnold: Beckus the Dandipratt Overture; Tam O’Shanter Overture; A Grand Grand Festival Overture; Peterloo Overture; Robert Kett Overture

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Arnold
LABELS: Chandos
ALBUM TITLE: Arnold: Overtures
WORKS: Beckus the Dandipratt Overture; Tam O’Shanter Overture; A Grand Grand Festival Overture; Peterloo Overture; Robert Kett Overture
PERFORMER: BBC Philharmonic/Rumon Gamba
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 10293
Listening to an hour and quarter’s worth of overtures by Malcolm Arnold turned out to be an unexpectedly dispiriting experience. Certainly the Grand Grand Overture is great fun, with its vacuum cleaners and rifles and Beethovenian big finish; Beckus the Dandipratt, Arnold’s breakthrough piece, is nimbly written; Tam O’ Shanter is a witty piece of storytelling; and the Peterloo massacre is depicted effectively if without much subtlety.

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But even an early piece such as The Smoke seems to lose impetus half way; and too many of the later works fall foul of the film composer’s habitual temptation to serve up merely the right sort of music for a given situation. However, Arnold’s many fans will no doubt relish the whole programme, including the first recording of the 1990 Robert Kett Overture. And these are lively, well-recorded performances, with an outstanding contribution from the BBC Philharmonic brass. Anthony Burton