Arnold: Beckus the Dandipratt; Suite: The Inn of the Sixth Happiness; Flourish for a 21st Birthday; Symphony No. 6; Philharmonic Conerto

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COMPOSERS: Arnold
LABELS: LPO
ALBUM TITLE: Arnold
WORKS: Beckus the Dandipratt; Suite: The Inn of the Sixth Happiness; Flourish for a 21st Birthday; Symphony No. 6; Philharmonic Conerto
PERFORMER: London Philharmonic Orchestra/ Vernon Handley
CATALOGUE NO: 13
This live recording from a 2004

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Royal Festival Hall concert begins

with Beckus the Dandipratt, the

overture that the LPO (with Arnold

as principal trumpet) recorded under

van Beinum in the 1940s. Handley

finds as much cheekiness as in that

version, and more than the composer

in his slow and earthbound 1991

recording. And The Inn of the Sixth

Happiness Suite is a reminder that

Arnold could produce a sweeping

film theme to rival Hollywood,

though it’s in the second movement

– ‘Romantic Interlude’ – that his

ability to write a touching melody

comes to the fore.

The mood changes completely

after the short Flourish, with the grim, twilight world of the Sixth

Symphony. In the first movement

the ghostly jazz-inflected themes

are fragmentary and sinister, and

the harmonies constantly searching

for resolution. Handley’s earlier

studio recording (due for reissue

this year) was more sharply focused,

and the playing more consistent,

especially in intonation, but there’s

a unique tension in this live LPO

performance. That carries through

to the second movement, a quietly

understated funeral march with a

bizarre central interlude which strays

into the world of the big band. In

the last movement some of the string

figuration is untidy, and it’s here that

the LSO/Hickox version leaps ahead

in terms of sheer virtuosity, as well

as clarity of recording. There’s too

short a gap before the Philharmonic

Concerto, a showcase for the LPO,

and, like all of Arnold’s music,

expertly orchestrated. Overall, a

good cross-section of the composer’s

range, clearly if slightly distantly

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recorded. Martin Cotton